Biological Effects of Magnetic Resonance Imaging on Testis Histology and Seminiferous Tubules Morphometry

Oman Med J. 2019 Nov;34(6):544-552. doi: 10.5001/omj.2019.98.


Objectives: Spermatogenesis is a regular and lengthy process in which the function of testicular cells may potentially be influenced by several extrinsic and intrinsic stressors, including environmental factors such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) waves and radiation. Our study aimed to investigate the effects of MRI waves and fields on the testicular histology and morphometry of seminiferous tubules in mice.

Methods: The experiment was conducted on 40 adult Naval Medical Research Institute mice. The control group was located in the center of the MRI bore while it was turned off, while the exposed group was exposed to the active scanner for 36 minutes once a week for three weeks. Our study included four groups: group I (control group at one hour after last exposure), group II (experimental group at one hour after last exposure), group III (control group at 35 days after last virtual exposure), and group IV (experimental group at 35 days after last exposure). We then assessed the tube and lumen diameters, as well as epithelium thickness of the seminiferous tubules.

Results: Our data showed that MRI waves partially reduced testicular weight one hour after the last exposure (group II) compared to group I (p = 0.240). On the other hand, in group II the Johnson's score (score 10, complete spermatogenesis and perfect tubules) was 87.5% which was slightly less than recorded in groups I, III, and IV (91.4%, 92.2%, and 90.5%, respectively). Furthermore, the MRI in group II revealed induces vacuolization in the epithelium, arrest in primary spermatocytes in the pachytene stage as well as disruption in the testicular parenchyma.

Conclusions: Long-term exposure to MRI waves has deleterious effects on the male reproductive system, fertility parameters, and the quantity of germ cells in the seminiferous tubules with the exception of the number of round spermatid cells and epithelial thickness. All these effects were reversible after a new period of spermatogenesis.

Keywords: Fertility; Magnetic Resonance Imaging; Mice; Seminiferous Tubules; Spermatogenesis; Testis.