Defective autophagic flux aggravates cadmium-induced Sertoli cell apoptosis

Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 2024 Mar 15:273:116095. doi: 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2024.116095. Epub 2024 Feb 16.


The male reproductive dysfunction accounts for 50% of infertile couples in the world. Cadmium (Cd) is one of the most harmful heavy metals to both the environment and inhabitants. Accumulating data suggest that Cd could cause male infertility. Sertoli cell (SC) is a somatic cell of testis and a key regulator of spermatogenesis by providing physical and nutritional support for developing sperm. Many studies showed that Cd induced dysfunction of SCs was directly related to male reproductive damage. However, the mechanism of SCs injury caused by Cd remains to be clarified. We found that Cd treatment caused a significant increase of apoptosis in SCs cells, accompanied by a marked increase in the production of ROS. These results were associated with the formation of mitochondria-containing autophagosomes and increased expression of LC3-II in vitro. Interestingly, our results showed that Cd did not promote but inhibited the fusion of mitochondria-containing autophagosomes with lysosomes by reducing the function of lysosomes. Together, this study provides insight into the negative effects of Cd, which interferes with autophagic flux and induces the apoptosis of SCs.

Keywords: Apoptosis; Autophagic flux; Cadmium; Lysosome; Mitochondria; Sertoli cells.

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis
  • Autophagy
  • Cadmium* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Semen
  • Sertoli Cells* / metabolism


  • Cadmium