Journal of Endocrinological Investigation

, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 229–237 | Cite as

Direct effects of microgravity on testicular function: Analysis of hystological, molecular and physiologic parameters

  • G. RicciEmail author
  • R. Esposito
  • A. Catizone
  • M. Galdieri
Original Articles


Spaceflight experiments carried out in microgravity environments have revealed that exposure to altered gravity condition results in alteration of several cellular functions and, consequently, of several apparatuses. There is some evidence in the literature indicating that space-flight affects the physiology of the testis. The data on effects of spaceflight or simulated microgravity on testicular function, however, sometimes appear contradictory. In the present study we used an in vitro experimental model in order to investigate the direct effects of microgravity on testicular tissue. We generated a microgravity environment using the Rotating Wall Vessel and performed experiments on testicular fragments isolated from pre-pubertal rats. In this model we then analyzed several parameters such as histological integrity, cell proliferation, cell apoptosis, occludin distribution pattern, and hormonal secretions. The emerging picture shows some alterations of testicular tissue physiology. Interestingly, we also demonstrate for the first time that, in organ culture, Leydig cell survival is severely affected by simulated microgravity.


Microgravity testis Leydig cells testosterone apoptosis 


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Copyright information

© Italian Society of Endocrinology (SIE) 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. Ricci
    • 1
    Email author
  • R. Esposito
    • 1
  • A. Catizone
    • 2
  • M. Galdieri
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Experimental Medicine, Histology and Embryology Laboratory, School of MedicineSecond University of Naples, and National Institute of Biostructures and Biosystems Interuniversitary Consortium — Unit of Sections of NaplesNaples
  2. 2.Department of Histology and Medical Embryology, School of MedicineUniversity of Rome “La Sapienza”RomeItaly

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