Purpose: Insulin-3 (Insl3) knockout mice exhibit isolated, bilateral, high intra-abdominal cryptorchidism. If left in this position until adulthood, these testes will deteriorate to the Sertoli-cell-only state, leading to infertility in 100%. We examined the effect of orchiopexy in this genetically engineered animal model.
Materials and methods: A total of 160 testes from 80 male offspring of Insl3 F crosses underwent either no orchiopexy (29 testes), sham surgery (25 testes), 1-stage Fowler-Stephens scrotal orchiopexy (57 testes) or primary orchiopexy into a low abdominal, subcutaneous pouch (49 testes). A group of postoperative mice underwent fertility testing 3 months postoperatively. At 6 to 9 months postoperatively the testes were harvested and histologically analyzed.
Results: Testes were atrophic in 100% (25 of 25) of the sham group, 91% (52 of 57) of the Fowler-Stephens orchiopexy group and 33% (16 of 49) of the subcutaneous pouch group (testis weight less than 50 mg.). Fertility testing was done in 30 mice (sham 5, Fowler-Stephens orchiopexy 17 and subcutaneous pouch 8). Infertility was secondary to bilateral testicular atrophy (sham 5 of 5, Fowler-Stephens orchiopexy 13 of 17), spermatogenic maturation arrest (subcutaneous pouch 8 of 8) and ductal obstruction [normal spermatogenesis with epididymis devoid of sperm] (Fowler-Stephens orchiopexy 2 of 17). Fertility with normal spermatogenesis was observed in 2 of 17 Fowler-Stephens orchiopexy mice, both of which were Insl3 knockout mice.
Conclusions: Intrascrotal orchiopexy can rescue these congenitally cryptorchid Insl3 knockout testes from their intra-abdominal fate of Sertoli-cell-only and lead to fertility. The results suggest that orchiopexy has a crucial and central role in preservation of spermatogenesis.