Impaired spermatogenesis resulting from disturbed cholesterol metabolism due to intake of high-fat diet (HFD) has been widely recognized, however, the role of preprotein invertase subtilin 9 (PCSK9), which is a negative regulator of cholesterol metabolism, has never been reported. This study aims to reveal the role of PCSK9 on spermatogenesis induced by HFD in mice.
Long-term consumption of a high-fat diet (HFD) is an important factor that leads to impaired spermatogenesis exhibiting poor sperm quantity and quality. However, the mechanism of this is yet to be elucidated. Disrupted cholesterol homeostasis is one of many crucial pathological factors which could contribute to impaired spermatogenesis. As a negative regulator of cholesterol metabolism, preprotein invertase subtilin 9 (PCSK9) mediates low density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) degradation to the lysosome, thereby reducing the expression of LDLR on the cell membrane and increasing serum low-density lipoprotein cholesterol level, resulting in lipid metabolism disorders. Here, we aim to study whether PCSK9 is a pathological factor for impaired spermatogenesis induced by HFD and the underlying mechanism. To meet the purpose of our study, we utilized wild-type C57BL/6 male mice and PCSK9 knockout mice with same background as experimental subjects and alirocumab, a PCSK9 inhibitor, was used for treatment. Results indicated that HFD induced higher PCSK9 expression in serum, liver, and testes, and serum PCSK9 is negatively correlated with spermatogenesis, while both PCSK9 inhibitor treatment and PCSK9 knockout methodologies ameliorated impaired lipid metabolism and spermatogenesis in mice fed a HFD. This could be due to the overexpression of PCSK9 induced by HFD leading to dyslipidemia, resulting in testicular lipotoxicity, thus activating the Bcl-2–Bax–Caspase3 apoptosis signaling pathway in testes, particularly in Leydig cells. Our study demonstrates that PCSK9 is an important pathological factor in the dysfunction of spermatogenesis in mice induced by HFD. This finding could provide innovative ideas for the diagnosis and treatment of male infertility.
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