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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 31  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 57-64

Molecular basis for the effects of zinc deficiency on spermatogenesis: An experimental study in the Sprague-dawley rat model

1 Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Faculty of Medicine, Kuwait University, Kuwait
2 Department of Anatomy (Electron Microscopy Unit), Faculty of Medicine, Kuwait University, Kuwait
3 College of Nursing, PAAET, Ministry of Health, Kuwait
4 Department of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, Kuwait University, Kuwait
5 Department of Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, Kuwait University, Kuwait
6 Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Faculty of Medicine, Kuwait University, Kuwait
7 Division of Primary Care and Public Health, Brighton and Sussex Medical School, Falmer, Sussex, BN1 9PX, United Kingdom

Correspondence Address:
Prof. Elijah O Kehinde
Department of Surgery, Division of Urology, Kuwait University, P. O. Box 24923, Safat 13110
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Source of Support: This work was supported by Kuwait University Research Grant No. MO 036/01, Kuwait., Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0970-1591.139570

Clinical trial registration Not applicable (Experimental study)

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Introduction: The objective of this study is to investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying the effects of zinc deficiency on spermatogenesis in the Sprague-Dawley (SD) rat. Materials and Methods: Three groups of eight adult male SD rats were maintained for 4 weeks on a normal diet as control, zinc deficient diet and zinc deficient diet with zinc supplementation of 28 mg zinc/kg body weight respectively. Using standard techniques, the following parameters were compared between the three groups of experimental animals at the end of 4 weeks: (a) Serum zinc, magnesium (Mg), copper (Cu), selenium (Se) and cadmium (Cd), (b) serum sex hormones, malondialdehyde (MDA), superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxidase (GPX), (c) interleukin-4 (IL-4), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), Bcl-2, Bax and caspase-3 expression in the testes, (d) assessment of apoptosis of testicular cells using electron microscopy and (e) testicular volume and histology using the orchidometer and Johnsen score, respectively. Results: The zinc deficient group showed a reduction of testicular volume, serum concentrations of Zn, Cu, Se, Mg, SOD, GPX, IL-4, Bcl-2 and testosterone (P < 0.05), as well as increased levels of serum Cd, MDA and tissue TNF-α, Bax, caspase-3 and apoptosis of the germ cells (P < 0.05) compared with control and zinc supplementation groups. Conclusion: Zinc deficiency is associated with impaired spermatogenesis because of reduced testosterone production, increased oxidative stress and apoptosis. These findings suggest that zinc has a role in male reproduction.

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