Spermatogonia apoptosis induction as a possible mechanism of Toxoplasma gondii induced male infertility

Document Type : Original Article


1 Cellular and Molecular Research Center, Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences, Ahvaz, Iran

2 Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine, Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences, Ahvaz, Iran

3 Virology Department, School of Medicine, Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences, Ahvaz, Iran

4 Department of Immunology, School of Medicine, Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences, Ahvaz, Iran

5 Physiology Research Center, School of Medicine, Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences, Ahvaz, Iran

6 Department of Medical Parasitology and Mycology, School of Public Health, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran


Objective(s): The protozoan Toxoplasma gondii as an intracellular protozoan is widely prevalent in humans and animals. Infection generally occurs through consuming food contaminated with oocysts and tissue cysts from undercooked meat. The parasite is carried in sexual fluids like semen but there is little information about the effect of T. gondii on the male reproductive system. In this study, we examined the effect of T. gondii tachyzoites on apoptosis induction in type B spermatogonia (GC-1) cells.
Materials and Methods: Fresh tachyzoites taken of infected BALB/c mice, GC-1 spg cells were infected with increasing concentrations of tachyzoites of T. gondii, then apoptotic cells were identified and quantified by flow cytometry. The genes associated with apoptosis were evaluated by RT2 Profiler PCR Array.
Results: PCR array analysis of 84 apoptosis-related genes demonstrated that 12 genes were up-regulated at least 4-fold and that one gene was down-regulated at least 2-fold in the T. gondii infection group compared with levels in the control group. The number of genes whose expression had increased during the period of infection with T. gondii was significantly higher than those whose expressions had decreased (18 versus 1) and Tnfrsf11b had the highest rate of gene expression.
Conclusion: T. gondii induce in vitro apoptosis of GC-1 spg cells. This effect shows a trend of concentration-dependent increase so that with an increase in the ratio of parasite burden to spermatogonial cells, in addition to an increase in the number of genes whose expression has changed, the fold of these changes has increased as well.


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