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Surgery-induced cryptorchidism induces apoptosis and autophagy of spermatogenic cells in mice

  • Yi Zheng (a1), Pengfei Zhang (a1), Conghui Zhang (a1) and Wenxian Zeng (a1)


Cryptorchidism, characterized by the presence of one (unilateral) or both (bilateral) undescended testes, is a common male urogenital defect. Cryptorchidism can lead to male infertility, testicular cancer being the most extreme clinical symptom, as well as psychological issues of the inflicted individual. Despite this, both knowledge about the aetiology of cryptorchidism and the mechanism for cryptorchidism-induced male infertility remain limited. In this present study, by using an artificial cryptorchid mouse model, we investigated the effects of surgery-induced cryptorchidism on spermatogenic cells and seminiferous epithelial cycles. We found that surgery-induced cryptorchidism led to a reduced testicular weight, aberrant seminiferous epithelial cycles and impaired spermatogenesis characterized by degenerating spermatogenic cells. We also observed multinucleated giant cells after surgery-induced cryptorchidism. Transmission electron microscopy, terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labelling (TUNEL) and western blot assays demonstrated cryptorchidism-induced apoptosis of spermatogenic cells. Moreover, we identified the occurrence of autophagy in germ cells after surgery-induced cryptorchidism. Interestingly, apoptosis and autophagy were synchronous, suggestive of their synergetic roles in promoting germ cell death. Our results provide novel insights into the cryptorchidism-induced male infertility, thereby contributing to the development of male contraceptive strategies as well as treatment options for male infertility caused by cryptorchidism.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Wenxian Zeng. College of Animal Science and Technology, Northwest A&F University, Yangling, Shaanxi 712100, China. E-mail:


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These authors contributed equally to this work.



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Surgery-induced cryptorchidism induces apoptosis and autophagy of spermatogenic cells in mice

  • Yi Zheng (a1), Pengfei Zhang (a1), Conghui Zhang (a1) and Wenxian Zeng (a1)


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