Changes in Gene Expression and Metabolism in the Testes of the Rat following Spinal Cord Injury

Ryan D. Fortune, Raymond J. Grill, Christine Beeton, Mark Tanner, Redwan Huq, David S. Loose

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Spinal cord injury (SCI) results in devastating changes to almost all aspects of a patient's life. In addition to a permanent loss of sensory and motor function, males also will frequently exhibit a profound loss of fertility through poorly understood mechanisms. We demonstrate that SCI causes measureable pathology in the testis both acutely (24 h) and chronically up to 1.5 years post-injury, leading to loss in sperm motility and viability. SCI has been shown in humans and rats to induce leukocytospermia, with the presence of inflammatory cytokines, anti-sperm antibodies, and reactive oxygen species found within the ejaculate. Using messenger RNA and metabolomic assessments, we describe molecular and cellular changes that occur within the testis of adult rats over an acute to chronic time period. From 24 h, 72 h, 28 days, and 90 days post-SCI, the testis reveal a distinct time course of pathological events. The testis show an acute drop in normal sexual organ processes, including testosterone production, and establishment of a pro-inflammatory environment. This is followed by a subacute initiation of an innate immune response and loss of cell cycle regulation, possibly due to apoptosis within the seminiferous tubules. At 1.5 years post-SCI, there is a chronic low level immune response as evidenced by an elevation in T cells. These data suggest that SCI elicits a wide range of pathological processes within the testes, the actions of which are not restricted to the acute phase of injury but rather extend chronically, potentially through the lifetime of the subject. The multiplicity of these pathological events suggest a single therapeutic intervention is unlikely to be successful.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1175-1186
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neurotrauma
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 15 2017


  • blood-testes barrier
  • gene expression
  • metabolomics
  • microarray
  • spinal cord injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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