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Int J Biol Sci 2018; 14(9):1109-1121. doi:10.7150/ijbs.22805

Research Paper

Apoptosis Induction by Iron Radiation via Inhibition of Autophagy in Trp53+/- Mouse Testes: Is Chronic Restraint-Induced Stress a Modifying Factor?

Hongyan Li1,2,3#, Bing Wang4#✉, Hong Zhang1,2,3,5✉, Takanori Katsube4, Yi Xie1,2,3, Lu Gan1,2,3

1. Department of Radiation Medicine, Institute of Modern Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, China
2. Key Laboratory of Heavy Ion Radiation Biology and Medicine of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, China
3. Key Laboratory of Basic Research on Heavy Ion Radiation Application in Medicine, Lanzhou 730000, China
4. National Institute of Radiological Sciences, National Institutes for Quantum and Radiological Science and Technology, Chiba 263-8555, Japan
5. Gansu Wuwei Tumor Hospital, Department of Science and Technology, Wuwei 733000, China
#These authors contributed equally to this work.


We used chronic restraint-induced stress (CRIS) and iron ionizing radiation (IR) to mimic human exposure to psychological stress (PS) and IR in a mouse model, and to investigate the relationship among endoplasmic reticulum stress (ERS), apoptosis and autophagy in testicular toxicity. Male Trp53+/- C57BL/6N mice were restrained for 6 h/day for 28 consecutive days, and total body irradiation with 0.1 or 2 Gy iron ion beam was performed on the day 8. Histopathological observation showed severely damaged spermatogenic cells, increased apoptotic cells, caspase-3 activation and cytochrome c release, indicating that IR and CRIS+IR induced testicular cell apoptosis. Upregulation of GRP78 (78-kDa glucose-regulated protein) suggested that IR and CRIS+IR induced ERS in the testes, and further analysis showed that apoptosis was enhanced by ERS through activation of the PERK/eIF2α/ATF4/CHOP pathway. Decreased expression of LC3II, Atg5 (autophagy related 5) and Beclin 1, and increased expression of p62, combined with ultrastructural changes seen under transmission electron microscopy, suggest that IR and CRIS+IR inhibit autophagosome formation. This process was related to inhibition of autophagy via activation of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway under ERS. We showed that apoptosis was strengthened and autophagy was inhibited by ERS in mouse testes induced by IR and CRIPS+IR. These results showed that CRIS+IR had no difference in apoptosis induction and autophagy inhibition compared with IR alone. CIRS alone could induce apoptosis only in Leydig cells and its induction of pathological and molecular changes in testicular tissues was only a small extent as compared to those induced by IR. Of note, we showed that 28 consecutive days of CRIS did not exacerbate IR effects (no additive effect with IR). These findings also suggest that studies on the concurrent exposure to PS and IR should be done using different endpoints in both short and long-term CRIS models.

Keywords: Chronic restraint-induced stress, iron ion radiation, autophagy, endoplasmic reticulum stress

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY-NC) license ( See for full terms and conditions.
How to cite this article:
Li H, Wang B, Zhang H, Katsube T, Xie Y, Gan L. Apoptosis Induction by Iron Radiation via Inhibition of Autophagy in Trp53+/- Mouse Testes: Is Chronic Restraint-Induced Stress a Modifying Factor?. Int J Biol Sci 2018; 14(9):1109-1121. doi:10.7150/ijbs.22805. Available from