Apoptotic germ-cell death and testicular damage in experimental diabetes: prevention by endothelin antagonism

Urol Res. 2000 Oct;28(5):342-7. doi: 10.1007/s002400000134.


This paper explores the role of endothelins (ETs) in diabetes-induced testicular damage by investigating, in a temporal manner, testes from streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetic rats. Testicular and epididymal weights and testicular morphology were assessed. Cell death was evaluated by light microscopy using conventional staining and morphology, and by apoptotic cell staining using the Terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP Nick End-Labeling (TUNEL) technique. Expression of endothelin-1 (ET-1) mRNA was evaluated by a semi-quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) method. Furthermore, effects of a mixed ETA and ETB receptor antagonist, bosentan, were studied. Testicular weights did not show any change at 1 month of follow-up, but were decreased after 6 months of diabetes. However, epididymal weights were significantly decreased at the end of both time periods in the diabetic rats. Morphological evaluations of the testes from diabetic rats showed a reduction in seminiferous tubular diameter, an increase in the number of empty testicular tubules and an increase in vascular density. Furthermore, degenerated germ cells and TUNEL-positive cells were significantly higher in diabetic rats than in control animals. The changes in diabetic animals were associated with increased ET-1 mRNA expression and were prevented by bosentan treatment. Administration of bosentan prevented decreased testicular weights, reduced seminiferous tubule diameters, increased vascular densities and incidences of degenerated and apoptotic germ cells and empty tubules in diabetic rats at the long-term follow-up. These results demonstrated that an ET-1 mediated pathway might be involved in testicular injury and germ-cell apoptosis in diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis* / drug effects
  • Bosentan
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / pathology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / physiopathology*
  • Endothelin-1 / genetics
  • Endothelins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Male
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Sulfonamides / pharmacology
  • Testis / pathology*
  • Testis / physiopathology*


  • Endothelin-1
  • Endothelins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Sulfonamides
  • Bosentan