Introduction: Testicular torsion is a urological emergency and infertility is a common complication due to ischemic injury. Surgical reduction and orchiopexy is indicated, but to date there is no effective method for restoration of spermatogenesis. The effects of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) on acute tissue injury have been demonstrated, and the abilities of paracrine support, differentiation and immune-modulation may benefit to testicular torsion-induced infertility. We investigate the therapeutic efficacy and the mechanisms of MSCs in testicular torsion-induced germ cell injury when injected locally. Methods: Six to eight-week-old Sprague-Dawley rats received surgical 720 degree torsion for 3 hours, followed by detorsion on the left testis. 20 μl of phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) without or with 3 x 104 MSCs from human orbital fat tissues (OFSCs) were given for 10 rats, respectively, via local injection into the left testis 30 minutes before detorsion. 20 μl of PBS injection for 6 rats with surgical exposure without torsion served as sham control. Histopathology with Johnsen's score analysis, Western blot analysis for superoxide dismutase 2, Bax, Caspase-3, human insulin growth factor-1 and human stem cell factor, malondialdehyde (MDA) assay in testis and plasma, hormones level including testosterone, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) by ELISA Kits, terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) assay and fluorescence staining for P450, Sox-9 and VASA were performed. Results: Animals were sacrificed and bilateral orchiectomy was performed 7 days after torsion-detorsion. Local injections of OFSCs prevented torsion-induced infertility judging from Johnsen's score. TUNEL assay and Western blot analysis on caspase 3 and Bax demonstrated that OFSCs prevented ischemic/reperfusion induced intrinsic apoptosis. MDA assay revealed that OFSCs significantly reduced the oxidative stress in the damaged testicular tissues. After the OFSC injection, serum testosterone secretion was increased, while the elevation of FSH triggered by testicular injury was balanced. OFSCs also produced stem cell factor in the damaged testis. Immunofluorescence staining revealed that most transplanted cells surrounded the Leydig cells. Some of transplanted cells differentiated into p450 expressing cells within 7 days. Conclusions: Local injection of allogenic MSCs before surgical detorsion is a simple, clinical friendly procedure to rescue torsion-induced infertility.
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