Transcriptomic differences between fibrotic and non-fibrotic testicular tissue reveal possible key players in Klinefelter syndrome-related testicular fibrosis

Sci Rep. 2022 Dec 13;12(1):21518. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-26011-6.


Klinefelter syndrome (KS; 47,XXY) affects 1-2 in 1000 males. Most men with KS suffer from an early germ cell loss and testicular fibrosis from puberty onwards. Mechanisms responsible for these processes remain unknown. Previous genomics studies on testis tissue from men with KS focused on germ cell loss, while a transcriptomic analysis focused on testicular fibrosis has not yet been performed. This study aimed to identify factors involved in the fibrotic remodelling of KS testes by analysing the transcriptome of fibrotic and non-fibrotic testicular tissue. RNA sequencing was performed to compare the genes expressed in testicular samples with (KS and testis atrophy) and without (Sertoli cell-only syndrome and fertile controls) fibrosis (n = 5, each). Additionally, differentially expressed genes (DEGs) between KS and testis atrophy samples were studied to reveal KS-specific fibrotic genes. DEGs were considered significant when p < 0.01 and log2FC > 2. Next, downstream analyses (GO and KEGG) were performed. Lastly, RNA in situ hybridization was performed to validate the results. The first analysis (fibrotic vs non-fibrotic) resulted in 734 significant DEGs (167 up- and 567 down-regulated). Genes involved in the extracellular structure organization (e.g. VCAM1) were found up-regulated. KEGG analysis showed an up-regulation of genes involved in the TGF-β pathway. The KS vs testis atrophy analysis resulted in 539 significant DEGs (59 up- and 480 down-regulated). Chronic inflammatory response genes were found up-regulated. The overlap of X-linked DEGs from the two analyses revealed three genes: matrix-remodelling associated 5 (MXRA5), doublecortin (DCX) and variable charge X-Linked 3B (VCX3B). RNA in situ hybridization showed an overexpression of VCAM1, MXRA5 and DCX within the fibrotic group compared with the non-fibrotic group. To summarize, this study revealed DEGs between fibrotic and non-fibrotic testis tissue, including VCAM1. In addition, X-linked fibrotic genes were revealed, e.g. MXRA5, DCX and VCX3B. Their potential role in KS-related testicular fibrosis needs further study.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Atrophy / pathology
  • Fibrosis
  • Humans
  • Klinefelter Syndrome* / pathology
  • Male
  • RNA / metabolism
  • Testis / metabolism
  • Transcriptome


  • RNA