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Reprod Toxicol. 2002 Mar-Apr;16(2):161-72.

The effect of methoxychlor on the epididymal antioxidant system of adult rats.

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  • 1School of Life Sciences, Pondicherry University, 605 014, India.


Methoxychlor is widely used as a pesticide in many countries and has been shown to induce reproductive abnormalities in male rats, causing reduced fertility. The mechanism of action of methoxychlor on the male reproductive system is not clear. In the present study we investigated whether administration of methoxychlor induces oxidative stress in the epididymis and epididymal sperm of adult rats. Methoxychlor (50, 100, or 200 mg/kg body weight/day) was administered orally for 1, 4, or 7 days. The animals were killed using anesthetic ether 24 h after of the last treatment. Epididymal sperm were collected by cutting the epididymis into small pieces in Ham's F-12 medium at 35 degrees C. The body weight and weights of the testis, liver, and kidney did not show any significant changes in the methoxychlor-treated rats. The weight of the epididymis, seminal vesicles, and ventral prostate as well as epididymal sperm counts decreased after 50, 100, or 200 mg/kg/day for 7 days but remained unchanged after shorter courses of treatment. Epididymal sperm motility was decreased in a dose-dependent manner in the animals treated with methoxychlor for 4 or 7 days. The activities of the antioxidant enzymes superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione reductase, and glutathione peroxidase were decreased while the levels of hydrogen peroxide and lipid peroxidation were increased in the epididymal sperm as well as in the caput, corpus, and cauda epididymis after 4 or 7 days of treatment. The activities of superoxide dismutase decreased while the levels of lipid peroxidation increased in the liver but not in the kidney in all groups. Co-administration of the antioxidant vitamin E (20 mg/kg body weight/ day) to the 200 mg/kg/d methoxychlor-treated rats for 7 days prevented significant changes in the antioxidant systems in the epididymis and epididymal sperm and prevented alterations in sperm counts and motility. The results indicated that methoxychlor induces oxidative stress in the epididymis and epididymal sperm by decreasing antioxidant enzymes, possibly by inducing reactive oxygen species. In conclusion the adverse effect of methoxychlor on the male reproduction could be due to induction of oxidative stress.

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