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Schmid, Nina; Flenkenthaler, Florian; Stöckl, Jan B.; Dietrich, Kim-Gwendolyn; Koehn, Frank M.; Schwarzer, J. Ullrich; Kunz, Lars; Luckner, Manja; Wanner, Gerhard; Arnold, Georg J.; Fröhlich, Thomas and Mayerhofer, Artur (2019): Insights into replicative senescence of human testicular peritubular cells. In: Scientific Reports, Vol. 9, 15052 [PDF, 7MB]


There is evidence for an age-related decline in male reproductive functions, yet how the human testis may age is not understood. Human testicular peritubular cells (HTPCs) transport sperm, contribute to the spermatogonial stem cell (SSC) niche and immune surveillance, and can be isolated and studied in vitro. Consequences of replicative senescence of HTPCs were evaluated to gain partial insights into human testicular aging. To this end, early and advanced HTPC passages, in which replicative senescence was indicated by increased cell size, altered nuclear morphology, enhanced beta-galactosidase activity, telomere attrition and reduced mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), were compared. These alterations are typical for senescent cells, in general. To examine HTPC-specific changes, focused ion beam scanning electron microscopy (FIB/SEM) tomography was employed, which revealed a reduced mitochondrial network and an increased lysosome population. The results coincide with the data of a parallel proteomic analysis and indicate deranged proteostasis. The mRNA levels of typical contractility markers and growth factors, important for the SSC niche, were not significantly altered. A secretome analysis identified, however, elevated levels of macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) and dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (DPP4), which may play a role in spermatogenesis. Testicular DPP4 may further represent a possible drug target.

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