Differential sensitivity of male germ cells to mainstream and sidestream tobacco smoke in the mouse

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Abstract

Cigarette smoking in men has been associated with increased chromosomal abnormalities in sperm and with increased risks for spontaneous abortions, birth defects and neonatal death. Little is known, however, about the reproductive consequences of paternal exposure to second-hand smoke. We used a mouse model to investigate the effects of paternal exposure to sidestream (SS) smoke, the main constituent of second-hand smoke, on the genetic integrity and function of sperm, and to determine whether male germ cells were equally sensitive to mainstream (MS) and SS smoke. A series of sperm DNA quality and reproductive endpoints were investigated after exposing male mice for two weeks to MS or SS smoke. Our results indicated that: (i) only SS smoke significantly affected sperm motility; (ii) only MS smoke induced DNA strand breaks in sperm; (iii) both MS and SS smoke increased sperm chromatin structure abnormalities; and (iv) MS smoke affected both fertilization and the rate of early embryonic development, while SS smoke affected fertilization only. These results show that MS and SS smoke have differential effects on the genetic integrity and function of sperm and provide further evidence that male exposure to second-hand smoke, as well as direct cigarette smoke, may diminish a couple's chance for a successful pregnancy and the birth of a healthy baby.

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