Adverse Effects of Cadmium on Bull Spermatozoa

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Cadmium (Cd) is a widespread environmental pollutant. Because of its long biological half-life (10-30 years in humans), Cd accumulates in the biological systems such as gonads. The present study was designed to evaluate the effect of Cd in the concentration range 50-750 μmol/L, in vitro, on the membrane integrity, motility and acrosomal status of bull spermatozoa. The samples were processed for sperm analyses using semen-diluting fluid (phosphate-buffered saline, pH 7.2). A significant elevation in the malondialdehyde level/lipid peroxidation (LPO) rate and a decrease in the spermatocrit values, particularly at a concentration of 750 μmol/L Cd, indicated the deleterious effect of Cd on sperm membrane integrity. There was also a negative correlation between LPO rate and percentage of motile spermatozoa (r = 0.992).The gelatin test indicates that Cd may alter the integrity of acrosomal membranes and shows an abnormal acrosome reaction. In this regard, a strong negative correlation was found between LPO rate and % halos (bright clear zone around sperm heads after gelatin digestion) (r = 0.990). Taking the results together, Cd proved to be a potential toxicant in the category of environmental factors that induce membrane impairment, lower motility, and decrease the rate of acrosome reactions, leading to male infertility. Apparently, the presence of Cd in the environment and seminal plasma exerts a toxic effect on sperm cells.

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