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, 74 (6), 860-871

Testicular Aging: An Overview of Ultrastructural, Cellular, and Molecular Alterations

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Testicular Aging: An Overview of Ultrastructural, Cellular, and Molecular Alterations

Joana Santiago et al. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci.

Abstract

The trend in parenthood at an older age is increasing for both men and women in developed countries, raising concerns about the reproductive ability, and the consequences for the offspring's health. While reproductive activity in women stops with menopause, a complete cessation of the reproductive potential does not occur in men. Although several studies have been published on the effects of aging on semen parameters and spermatozoa DNA integrity, literature on impact of aging on the testis, particularly cellular, and molecular alterations, has been, so far, limited and controversial. This work discusses the current knowledge on testicular aging in humans and other mammals, covering topics from tissue ultrastructure, to cellular and molecular alterations. Aging affects male reproductive function at multiple levels, from sperm production and quality, to the morphology and histology of the male reproductive system. The morphological and functional changes that occur in the testes result in variations in the levels of many hormones, changes in molecules involved in mitochondrial function, receptors, and signaling proteins. Despite knowing that these age-related alterations occur, their real impact on male fertility and reproductive health are still far from being fully understood, highlighting that research in the field is crucial.

Keywords: Male (in)fertility; Reproductive decline; Testis.

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