Regular exercise can counteract the adverse effects of aging on the musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems. In males, the normal aging process is associated with reductions in testosterone production and impaired spermatogenesis, but the underlying mechanisms and their potential modification by exercise are unknown. Here, we report that lifelong regular exercise (running) protects the testes against the adverse effects of advancing age, and that this effect of running is associated with decreased amounts of oxidative damage to proteins, lipids, and DNA in spermatogenic and Leydig cells. Six-month-old male mice were divided into a sedentary group and a group that ran an average of 1.75 km/day, until the mice reached the age of 20 months. Seminiferous tubules of runners exhibited a full complement of cells at different stages of the spermatogenic process and a clear central lumen with large numbers of spermatozoa, in contrast to sedentary mice that exhibited disorganized spermatogenic cells and lacked spermatocytes in a central lumen. Levels of protein carbonyls, nitrotyrosine, lipid peroxidation products, and oxidatively modified DNA were significantly greater in spermatogenic and Leydig cells of sedentary mice compared with runners. These findings suggest that lifelong regular exercise suppresses aging of testes by a mechanism that involves reduced oxidative damage to spermatogenic and Leydig cells.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism