High-energy diets may induce a pre-diabetic state altering testicular glycolytic metabolic profile and male reproductive parameters



Pedro F. Oliveira, Health Sciences Research Centre, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Beira Interior, Av. Infante D. Henrique, Covilhã 6201-506, Portugal. E-mail: pfobox@gmail.com


Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disorder that may arise from diet habits and is growing to epidemic proportions. Young male diabetic patients present high infertility/subfertility prevalence resulting from impaired reproductive function and poor semen quality. We aimed to evaluate the effects of a high-energy diet (HED) on glucose tolerance/insulin levels and correlate the observed effects on male reproductive function with overall testicular metabolism. After 1 month, HED fed rats showed increased glycaemic levels, impaired glucose tolerance and hypoinsulinaemia. Moreover, an imbalance of intratesticular and serum testosterone levels was observed, whereas those of 17β-estradiol were not altered. High-energy diet also affected the reproductive parameters, with HED rats exhibiting a significant increase in abnormal sperm morphology. Glycolytic metabolism was favoured in testicles of HED rats with an increased expression of both glucose transporters 1 (GLUT1) and 3 (GLUT3) and the enzyme phosphofrutokinase 1. Moreover, lactate production and the expression of metabolism-associated genes and proteins involved in lactate production and transport were also enhanced by HED. Alanine testicular content was decreased and thus intratesticular lactate/alanine ratio in HED rats was increased, suggesting increased oxidative stress. Other energetic substrates such as acetate and creatine were not altered in testis from HED rats, but intratesticular glycine content was increased in those animals. Taken together, these results suggest that HED induces a pre-diabetic state that may impair reproductive function by modulating overall testicular metabolism. This is the first report on testicular metabolic features and mechanisms related with the onset of a pre-diabetic state.