The Emerging Pathophysiology of Age-related Testicular Degeneration with a Focus on the Stallion and an Update on Potential Therapies


Author’s address (for correspondence): Regina M Turner, Department of Clinical Studies, New Bolton Center, 382 West Street Rd., Kennett Square, PA 19348, USA. E-mail:


Studies in laboratory rodents are shedding light on the pathophysiology of testicular ageing and now suggest a complicated basis for age-related declines in testicular function. A highly significant contributor to infertility may involve failure of specific and complex testicular microenvironments (niches) comprised of a variety of cellular and molecular components. Our laboratory has applied testis tissue xenografting to the study of testicular ageing in the stallion. Using this technique, we have confirmed that the disease is tissue autologous. As would be expected from a tissue autologous disease, hormonal and non-hormonal therapies designed to drive the function of the diseased testis are ineffective. However, we have some evidence that contact with young, normal testicular tissue may improve the condition of aged, degenerate testes. Perhaps, paracrine factors from young testicular cells may partially restore a young microenvironment and allow for the maintenance of testicular function. These findings form the basis for future studies designed to determine whether cells, genes or proteins from a normal testis can aid the function of a degenerate testis.