Melatonin Relieves Busulfan-Induced Spermatogonial Stem Cell Apoptosis of Mouse Testis by Inhibiting Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress.
Cell Physiol Biochem. 2017 ;44(6):2407-2421. Epub 2017 Dec 18. PMID: 29268276
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Busulfan is commonly used for cancer chemotherapy. Although it has the advantage of increasing the survival rate of patients, it can cause male infertility via damaging the testes and reducing sperm counts. Therefore, the underlying mechanism should be explored, and new agents should be developed to protect the male reproductive system from busulfan-induced damage. Endoplasmic reticulum stress (ERS) is considered a key contributor to numerous pathologies. Despite several studies linking ERS to toxicants, studies have yet to determine whether ERS is a contributing factor to busulfan-induced testicular damage. Melatonin is a well-known broad-spectrum antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antitumour agent, but the effects of melatonin on busulfan-induced ERS in mouse testes damage are less documented.
METHODS: The effects of melatonin were measured by immunofluorescence staining, Western blot, qRT-PCR analysis and flow cytometry assay. The underlying mechanism was investigated by measuring ERS.
RESULTS: We found that ERS was strongly activated in mouse testes (in vivo) and the C18-4 cell line (in vitro) after busulfan administration. ERS-related apoptosis proteins such as caspase-12, CHOP and caspase-3 were activated, and the expression of apoptotic proteins such as P53 and PUMA were upregulated. Furthermore, we investigated whether melatonin reduced the extent of damage to mouse testes and improved the survival rates of busulfan-treated mice. When exploring the underlying mechanisms, we found melatonin could counteract ERS by decreasing the expression levels of the ERS markers GRP78, ATF6, pIRE1 and XBP1 in mouse testes and mouse SSCs (C18-4 cells). Moreover, it blocked the activation of ERS-related apoptosis proteins caspase-12, CHOP and caspase-3 and suppressed P53 and PUMA expression stimulated by busulfan both in vivo and in vitro.
CONCLUSION: Our results demonstrate that ERS is an important mediator for busulfan-induced apoptosis. The attenuation of ERS by melatonin can prevent busulfan-treated SSCs apoptosis and protect busulfan-treated testes from damage. Thus, this study suggests that melatonin may alleviate the side effects of busulfan for male patients during clinical treatment.