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Volume 23, Issue 3 (May 2021) 23, 306–313; 10.4103/aja.aja_76_20

A decrease of docosahexaenoic acid in testes of mice fed a high-fat diet is associated with impaired sperm acrosome reaction and fertility

Julio Buñay1, Luz-Maria Gallardo1, Jorge Luis Torres-Fuentes1, M Verónica Aguirre-Arias1, Renan Orellana2, Néstor Sepúlveda3, Ricardo D Moreno1

1 Physiology Department, Faculty of Biological Sciences, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (PUC), Santiago 8331150, Chile
2 Department of Chemistry and Biological Sciences, Health Sciences Faculty, Universidad Bernardo O Higgins, Santiago 8370854, Chile
3 Center of Excellence in Biotechnology of Reproduction, Universidad de la Frontera, Temuco 4780000, Chile

Correspondence: Dr. RD Moreno (rmoreno@bio.puc.cl)

Date of Submission 04-Dec-2019 Date of Acceptance 27-Sep-2020 Date of Web Publication 01-Dec-2020


Obesity is a major worldwide health problem that is related to most chronic diseases, including male infertility. Owing to its wide impact on health, mechanisms underlying obesity-related infertility remain unknown. In this study, we report that mice fed a high-fat diet (HFD) for over 2 months showed reduced fertility rates and increased germ cell apoptosis, seminiferous tubule degeneration, and decreased intratesticular estradiol (E2) and E2-to-testosterone ratio. Interestingly, we also detected a decrease in testicular fatty acid levels, behenic acid (C22:0), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n-3), which may be related to the production of dysfunctional spermatozoa. Overall, we did not detect any changes in the frequency of seminiferous tubule stages, sperm count, or rate of in vitro capacitation. However, there was an increase in spontaneous and progesterone-induced acrosomal exocytosis (acrosome reaction) in spermatozoa from HFD-fed mice. These data suggest that a decrease in E2 and fatty acid levels influences spermatogenesis and some steps of acrosome biogenesis that will have consequences for fertilization. Thus, our results add new evidence about the adverse effect of obesity in male reproduction and suggest that the acrosomal reaction can also be affected under this condition.

Keywords: cholesterol; estradiol; fat acid; testis; testosterone

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