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Sodium Arsenite in Drinking Water is a Continuous Threat to Maturing Reproductive System: a Study in Prepubertal Male Mice

Author(s): Irfan Zia Qureshi, Naureen Anwar, Sumaira Hassan.

Human exposure to arsenic in countries known for heavy arsenic load, where ground water arsenic level exceeds the WHO limit, can be detrimental for developing gonads. Developmental and reproductive toxicity of arsenic in rodents after in utero exposure is although known but information on the toxic effects of arsenic on postnatal gonadal development is scant. This aspect was the focus of the present investigation. Postnatal day 25 prepubertal male mice were challenged with sub-chronic and chronic (up to PND 53 & PND 114 respectively) oral exposure (drinking water) to low and high doses (0.01, 5, and 10 mg.L-1) of sodium arsenite. Data were compared statistically at P<0.05. Sub-chronic exposure to high arsenic doses led to significant increase in the production of reactive oxygen species and lipid peroxidation, while simultaneous significant reduction occurred in the activity of antioxidant enzymes catalase, superoxide dismutase and peroxidase, hormone concentrations (folliclestimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, testosterone) and sperm parameters. Testicular cell damage and sperm DNA damage, as revealed by comet assay, were evident at 10 mg.L-1arsenic dose. Chronic exposure further aggravated the adverse effects. Severe testicular oxidative stress, reduction in hormones and pronounced histological alterations in testis and epididymis, and sperm parameters together with excessive sperm DNA damage were noticeable even at the lowest test dose of 0.01 mg.L-1. The study concludes that arsenic exposure considerably affects the prepubertal gonad, may cause irreversible damage to the developing reproductive system of males and that minute quantity of arsenic in drinking water can be a serious health hazard.

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