Long-term (6-wk) hindlimb suspension inhibits spermatogenesis in adult male rats
Tash, J. S., et al. (2002). "Long-term (6-wk) hindlimb suspension inhibits spermatogenesis in adult male rats." Journal of Applied Physiology 92 3: 1191-1198
The International Space Station will allow extended habitation in space and long-term exposure to microgravity (microG). A concern is the impact of long-term microG exposure on the ability of species to reproduce. The model often used to simulate microG is rat hindlimb suspension (HLS), where the hindlimbs are elevated above the cage floor with a tail harness. Experiments described here are the first to examine the effect of long-term HLS on testicular function in adult male rats. Free-roaming (controls), animals with only the tail harnessed but hindlimbs in contact with the cage floor (TO), and HLS animals were tested for 6 wk. Cryptorchidism was prevented in TO and HLS animals by partial constriction of the inguinal canal with sutures. All parameters were compared at the end of the 6-wk experiment. Testicular weights and spermatogenesis were significantly reduced by HLS, such that no spermatogenic cells beyond round spermatids were present and epididymides were devoid of mature sperm. In many tubules, loss of all germ cells, except a few spermatogonia, resulting in histopathology similar to the Sertoli cell, was observed. Spermatogenesis appeared unaffected in control and TO animals. Sertoli and Leydig cell appearance, testosterone, luteinizing hormone, and follicle-stimulating hormone levels, and epididymal and seminal vesicle weight were unchanged by HLS. Cortisone was not elevated by HLS; thus stress may not be a factor. These results demonstrate that spermatogenesis is severely inhibited by long-term HLS, whereas testicular androgen production is not. These results have significant implications regarding serious effects of long-term exposure to microG on the reproductive capability of scrotal mammals, including humans.
ISSN: 8750-7587 (Print) 0161-7567 (Linking)
Accession Number: 11842058