Effect of iodine supplementation on thyroid and testicular morphology and function in euthyroid rats

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Seventy-five male weaner euthyroid rats, randomly divided into three equal groups were used to evaluate the effect of iodine supplementation in the diet on growth and spermatogenesis. From the age of six weeks, the rat groups were fed normal diet containing 0.05 mg iodine/Kg diet (A); normal diet supplemented with 0.5 mg/Kg iodine (B) and normal diet supplemented with 3.0 mg/Kg iodine for a period of 90 days. Thereafter, all three groups were fed the normal diet for another 60 days. Body weight and feed consumption were determined; morphomeric studies of thyroid glands, testes and epididymes were carried out. Spermatogenesis was evaluated with epididymal (ESC) and testicular sperm counts (TSC). Increasing iodine intake significantly (p < 0.05) decreased mean body weight from day 30 of supplementation. Iodine supplementation influenced feed conversion ratio and efficiency in feed utilization in an inconsistent pattern. Supplementation did not significantly (p > 0.05) alter the size of thyroid glands, but increased the mean weights of the testes and epididymes to levels significantly (p < 0.05) higher than values for non-supplemented rats at specific stages of the study, especially at the highest (3 ppm) level of iodine supplementation. However, supplementation resulted generally in lower sperm counts, which was significant (p < 0.05) in the case of the epididymes. The results of the study show that iodine supplementation to weaner, non-iodine deficient euthyroid rats at 3ppm not only retard weight gain but could also reduce fertility by lowering epididymal sperm counts.

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