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Keywords:

  • autoregulation;
  • blood pressure;
  • laser Doppler flowmetry;
  • microcirculation;
  • testicular;
  • vasomotion

Summary

Developing germ cells may be sensitive to even moderate reductions in blood flow. Surprisingly, however, experimental evidence suggests that the rat testis may be unable to maintain its blood flow during a decrease in systemic blood pressure. This study was therefore performed in order to answer the following questions: Is the testis able to maintain its blood flow during moderate to major reductions in blood pressure and, if so, at which level of the testicular vasculature (main artery or microcirculation) does this compensatory response take place? Moderate (−20%) and major (−40%) reductions in blood pressure were induced in anaesthetized rats by haemorrhage and the effects on testicular microvascular blood flow and subcapsular testicular artery diameter were examined by using laser Doppler flowmetry and in vivo video-microscopy respectively. Haemorrhagic hypotension led to decreased local testicular blood flow, but the relative reductions in flow were generally only half as large as the reductions in blood pressure. Hypotension also decreased the diameter of the main subcapsular testicular artery. During large reductions in blood pressure the subcapsular testicular artery constricts and testicular blood flow decreases. However, blood flow is reduced proportionally less than the mean arterial pressure, suggesting that local regulatory mechanisms are present in the testicular microvasculature, which may prevent blood flow from falling below a critical level.