The effect of moderate reductions in testicular blood flow has not been studied systematically. The aim of this study was, therefore, to examine the effects of different degrees of blood flow reduction on testicular morphology and to determine how much flow can be reduced before damage occurs. The subcapsular testicular artery was partially ligated in the left testes of adult rats. Testicular blood flow was measured before, immediately after, and 5 h after the ligation using laser Doppler flowmetry. After 5 h of partial ligation, the testes were removed, and their morphology was examined and related to the degree of blood flow reduction. The number of in situ end-labeled- or TUNEL-positive (i.e., dying) germ cells and the volume density of intravascular polymorphonuclear (PMN) leukocytes were measured. When flow was reduced to approximately 70% or less of its pretreatment value, a dose-related increase in the number of dying spermatogonia and early spermatocytes was seen. The PMN leukocytes accumulated in testicular blood vessels after partial ligation, and the maximum number was observed in testes where flow was reduced by approximately 50% of the pretreatment value. In conclusion, early stages of spermatogenesis are sensitive to a moderate, acute reduction in blood flow. Discrete reductions in flow may, therefore, have a large impact on sperm production.
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