Reproductive tract functions were studied in adult male Wistar rats given 10 ppm thallium as thallium sulfate in the drinking water. After 60 days of treatment, spermatozoa isolated from the cauda epididymides and vas deferens showed reduced motility and immature germ cells were found in the tubular lumen. Histological examination of testes in thallium-treated animals revealed disarrangement of the tubular epithelium and ultrastructural changes in the Sertoli cells with cytoplasmic vacuolation and distension of the smooth endoplasmic reticulum. The activity of testicular β-glucuronidase was significantly reduced whereas acid phosphatase and sorbitol dehydrogenase activities were unchanged. Plasma testosterone levels were within normal limits. No abnormalities in testicular morphology and biochemistry were seen in animals sacrificed at the end of the first month of thallium exposure. These findings indicate that the male reproductive system is a susceptible target site to toxic effects of thallium under chronic exposure. They also suggest a major involvement of Sertoli cells in the mechanism underlying thallium-induced testicular damage.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Science(all)