The purpose of this study is to determine whether inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) is involved in the pathogenesis of testicular ischemia-reperfusion (I/R) injury in association with germ cell death, through either necrosis or apoptosis. Western blot analysis showed that iNOS expression was markedly increased 1 h after ischemia, and was accompanied by a huge nitric oxide (NO) production, as measured by the Griess method, with a peak at 48 h of reperfusion. Immunohistochemistry showed that iNOS was expressed predominantly in the macrophage-like cells infiltrated in the interstitial tissues of the testis. Intraperitoneal injection of aminoguanidine (AMG) (400 mg/day), the inhibitor of iNOS, reduced NO production by 57.7% at 96 h of reperfusion. Calpain activation and proteolysis of α-fodrin induced by I/R were inhibited by AMG. Germ cell apoptosis was demonstrated by in situ TUNEL and DNA fragmentation on agarose gel electrophoresis. Germ cell apoptosis was maximally induced at 24 h of reperfusion, and was not inhibited by AMG. NO produced by iNOS in the delayed phase of reperfusion promoted α-fodrin proteolysis, which is closely associated with necrosis. Inducible NOS inhibition combined with calpain inhibition may improve impaired spermatogenesis after testicular torsion.
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