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Varicocele-Caused Progressive Damage in Bilateral Testis and Sertoli Cell-Only Syndrome in Homolateral Testis in Rats

Jianjun Liu, Degang Ding, Jie Liu

Department of Urology, Henan Provincial People's Hospital, Zhengzhou, China (mainland)

Med Sci Monit 2014; 20:1931-1936

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.891324

Available online:

Published: 2014-10-14

Background: We aimed to investigate whether varicocele (VC) in rats can cause Sertoli cell-only syndrome (SCOS).
Material and Methods: Forty adolescent SD rats were randomly divided into 4 groups: 4-weeks control group, 4-weeks experimental group, 12-weeks control group, and 12-weeks experimental group. Left varicocele models were introduced by partially ligating left kidney veins for the experimental groups, and the sham surgery groups as controls were executed with exactly the same surgery as in the experimental groups except for the ligation. Rats in control and experimental groups for 4 and 12 weeks were killed after laparotomy at 4 and 12 weeks, respectively, the testes were taken out and fixed in fixative containing 4% polyformaldehyde, then were stained by hematoxylin and eosin (HE). The density and viability of sperm were analyzed by computer-aided sperm analysis.
Results: Compared with rats in 4-weeks and 12-weeks control group, histological structures of bilateral testes in both experimental groups were impaired, most of them showing as focal focuses. The pathological changes of testes in rats of the 12-weeks experimental group were bilateral, and included atrophy of seminiferous tubules, turbulence of spermatogenic cells in seminiferous tubules, defluvium of most spermatogenic cells, abortion of spermatogenesis, and degradation of spermatogenic epithelia. One rat in the 12-weeks experimental group was shown having SCOS, with the spermatogenic cells in seminiferous tubules completely flaked, degraded, or absent, and only Sertoli cells lined the seminiferous tubules.
Conclusions: Laboratory VC caused progressive impairment of homolateral testes, and SCOS could be induced when the damage was severe. Our results indicate that asthenozoospermia, azoospermia, and SCOS can be prevented by the earlier treatment of VC.

Keywords: Disease Progression, Animals, Rats, Sertoli Cell-Only Syndrome - pathology, Testis - pathology, Varicocele - pathology