Microbeam radiotherapy (MRT) is based on a spatial fractionation of synchrotron X-ray microbeams at the microscale level. Although the tissue-sparing effect (TSE) in response to non-uniform radiation fields was recognized more than one century ago, the TSE of MRT in the testes and its clinical importance for preventing male fertility remain to be determined. In this study, using the combination of MRT techniques and a unique ex vivo testes organ culture, we show, for the first time, the MRT-mediated TSE for the preservation of spermatogenesis. Furthermore, our high-precision microbeam analysis revealed that the survival and potential migration steps of the non-irradiated germ stem cells in the irradiated testes tissue would be needed for the effective TSE for spermatogenesis. Our findings indicated the distribution of dose irradiated in the testes at the microscale level is of clinical importance for delivering high doses of radiation to the tumor, while still preserving male fertility.
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