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Arch Toxicol. 2002 Sep;76(9):545-51. Epub 2002 Jun 25.

Effect of nonylphenol on the antioxidant system in epididymal sperm of rats.

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


Nonylphenol, an environmental contaminant, has been shown to induce reproductive abnormalities in male rats. The nature and mechanism of action of nonylphenol on the epididymal sperm has not been elucidated. In the present study we have sought to investigate whether administration of nonylphenol induces oxidative stress in rat epididymal sperm. Nonylphenol was administered orally to male rats at 1, 10 and 100 microg/kg body weight per day for 45 days. Twenty-four hours after the last treatment, rats were weighed and killed using anaesthetic ether. The body weight of the animals treated with nonylphenol did not show any significant change. The weights of the testes and epididymides decreased significantly whereas the weights of seminal vesicles and ventral prostate remained unchanged at all doses of nonylphenol in treated rats. Epididymal sperm were collected by cutting the epididymides into small pieces in Ham's F-12 medium at 32 degrees C. Administration of nonylphenol decreased the epididymal sperm counts in a dose-dependent manner. The activities of antioxidant enzymes superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione reductase and glutathione peroxidase decreased significantly while the levels of H(2)O(2) generation and lipid peroxidation increased significantly in the animals treated with nonylphenol when expressed in terms of milligram protein and milligram DNA. The activity of alpha-glucosidase, a negative control against antioxidant enzymes, in the sperm of nonylphenol-treated rats did not show any significant change at any of the doses. The results suggest that graded doses of nonylphenol elicit depletion of antioxidant defence system in sperm, indicating nonylphenol-induced oxidative stress in the epididymal sperm of rats.

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