Panax ginseng protects the testis against 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin induced testicular damage in guinea pigs

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Abstract

Objectives

To investigate histopathologically the beneficial effects of Panax ginseng extract on guinea pig testes damaged by 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD).

Materials and methods

Ninety guinea pigs were divided into six equal groups. The normal controls (group 1) received vehicle and saline; group 2 received TCDD (1 µg/kg) intraperitoneally; group 3 and 4 received 100 or 200 mg/kg per day of Panax ginseng water extract (PG-WE) intraperitoneally for 28 days from 1 week before TCDD injection; groups 5 and 6 received PG-WE for 14 days from 1 week after TCDD treatment.

Results

The gain in body weight was less in groups treated with TCDD than in controls. Moreover, the body weight of group 2 decreased from 14 days after TCDD exposure, while that of groups 3 and 4 increased; there was no decrease in body weight in groups 3-6. The decrease in testicular weight caused by TCDD was prevented by PG-WE. Light microscopy showed smaller tubules and late maturation arrest in group 2; electron microscopy showed a dissolution of the germinal epithelium, disrupted tight junctions between adjacent Sertoli cells, and altered germ cells at all developmental stages. The maturation arrest in germ cells caused by TCDD was ameliorated in groups 3-6. The testes almost completely recovered in groups 3 and 4 and there was some therapeutic effect of PG-WE in groups 5 and 6.

Conclusions

These results confirm the protective and therapeutic effects of Panax ginseng on atrophy and testicular damage induced by TCDD, providing evidence that ginseng might be a useful agent in preventing and treating testicular damage induced by environmental pollutants.

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