Interplay between collagenase and undescended testes in Adamts16 knockout rats

J Pediatr Surg. 2020 Sep;55(9):1952-1958. doi: 10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2019.12.019. Epub 2020 Jan 7.


Background: The inguinoscrotal stage of testicular descent is characterized by an increase in cell density and collagen fibers as the gubernaculum undergoes cell division and increases Extracellular Matrix (ECM) activity. Rats that lack the enzyme Adamts16, a known ECM proteinase, develop cryptorchidism postnatally and are infertile. Therefore, this study aims to investigate the link between the Adamts16 enzyme and congenital undescended testes (UDT) in Adamts16 knockout (KO) rats during postnatal development.

Methods: Formalin-fixed specimens of Wild-Type, Adamts16 heterozygous and Adamts16 homozygous KO rats post birth were sectioned and used for standard H&E histology and Masson's trichrome staining. A quantitative analysis on image J was performed to determine the intensity of collagen fibers within the inguinoscrotal fat pad (IFP) (n = 3 age/genotype).

Results: The migration of the gubernaculum within the Adamts16 heterozygous and Adamts16 KO rat was considerably disrupted. Furthermore, the Masson's trichrome staining demonstrated a significant increase in collagen fibers around the gubernaculum of rats that lacked Adamts16 enzyme at day 8.

Conclusion: This study reports a failure of gubernacular migration leading to UDT in Adamts16 KO rats during development, suggesting that the expression of Adamts16 gene is critical for normal gubernacular migration through the breakdown of collagen fibers within the IFP.

Keywords: Adamts16; Collagen; Cryptorchidism; Extracellular matrix; Reproduction; Undescended testes.

MeSH terms

  • ADAMTS Proteins* / genetics
  • ADAMTS Proteins* / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Collagenases*
  • Cryptorchidism*
  • Gene Knockout Techniques
  • Male
  • Rats


  • ADAMTS Proteins
  • Collagenases