Hypoxia has been suggested as an important pathophysiological feature in varicocele disease. On the other hand, the expression of hypoxia-inducible factor 1-alpha (HIF1-α) is associated with the incidence of hypoxia. In this study, we investigated the expression of HIF1-α in varicocele disease through a comprehensive systematic review. We searched PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, and Embase databases to identify the related studies published up to February 2021. Human studies have demonstrated an increase in the HIF-1α protein expression in the internal spermatic vein (ISV) of the varicocele testicle. HIF-1α mRNA expression in the seminal plasma was significantly higher in infertile varicocele patient compared with fertile ones. Similarly, most animal studies demonstrated a significant increase in HIF-1α gene and protein expression in varicocele testicular tissue compared with control groups. The studies illustrated that hypoxia followed by increased expression of hypoxia-inducible factor 1-alpha (HIF1-α) mRNA and protein occurs in varicocele disease. Expression of HIF-1α regulates the expression of many genes, including VEGF, p53, GLUT, Bax, and Caspase-3, that could be involved in many of the varicocele pathophysiological effects such as DNA fragmentation and apoptosis of sperm cells. Further studies with a large number of patients are necessary and can provide more definitive evidence.
© 2021. Society for Reproductive Investigation.