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Leech therapy (Hirudo medicinalis) attenuates testicular damages induced by testicular ischemia/reperfusion in an animal model

Farshid Davoodi, Shayan Taheri, , Asghar Rajabzadeh, , Mohammad Hassan Hablolvarid, Hassan Ahmadvand
Published: 27 July 2021

Abstract: Background Testicular torsion/detorsion triggers tissue ischemia/reperfusion, leading to reactive oxygen species overgeneration and apoptosis. The saliva of leeches is full of anti-inflammatory, anticoagulants, antioxidants, and antimicrobial agents. Therefore, this study aimed to assess the protective mechanism of leech therapy on testicular ischemia/reperfusion damage. Methods 18 adult male rats were randomly divided into three groups: 1-Sham-operated group (SO). 2-Torsion/detorsion (T.D) group: two hours of testicular torsion with two hours of testicular detorsion was performed. 3-Torsion/detorsion + Leech therapy (TDL) group. Sperm parameters (motility, vitality, morphology, and concentration), oxidative stress biomarkers (MDA, CAT, GPx, and TAC), histopathological factors (Mean seminiferous tubular diameter, Germinal epithelial cell thickness, Testicular capsule thickness, Johnson’s score, and Cosentino’s score), and immunohistochemical markers for apoptosis detection (Bax, Bcl-2, and Caspase-3) were measured. Results There was a significant difference for all sperm parameters in the T. D group compared to the sham group. Leech therapy significantly increased progressive motility and normal morphology and reduced non-progressive motility. In the TDL group, MDA concentration significantly reduced, and levels of GPx, TAC, and CAT remarkably increased. All evaluated histopathological parameters in the TDL group significantly increased compared to the T. D group except for the testicular capsule thickness. T. D notably increased the expression of Bax and Caspase-3, while the treatment group slowed the rate of apoptosis compared to the control group. Bcl-2 expression in the T. D group was significantly lower than that in the sham group. Leech therapy increased the Bcl-2 expression. Conclusion Leech therapy attenuates damages to testicular tissue following torsion/detorsion due to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-apoptotic effects. Hence, it can be considered as an effective remedy for testicular ischemia/reperfusion. Graphical abstract
Keywords: Spermatic cord torsion / Testicular ischemia/reperfusion / Leech therapy / Hirudo medicinalis / Oxidative stress / Sperm parameters / Apoptosis

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