Molecular basis for the effects of zinc deficiency on spermatogenesis: An experimental study in the Sprague-dawley rat model

Alexander E. Omu, Majedah K. Al-Azemi, May Al-Maghrebi, Chacko T. Mathew, Florence E. Omu, Elijah O. Kehinde, Jehoram T. Anim, Mabayoje A. Oriowo, Anjum Memon

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25 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: The objective of this study is to investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying the effects of zinc deficiency on spermatogenesis in the Sprague-Dawley (SD) rat. Materials and Methods: Three groups of eight adult male SD rats were maintained for 4 weeks on a normal diet as control, zinc deficient diet and zinc deficient diet with zinc supplementation of 28 mg zinc/kg body weight respectively. Using standard techniques, the following parameters were compared between the three groups of experimental animals at the end of 4 weeks: (a) Serum zinc, magnesium (Mg), copper (Cu), selenium (Se) and cadmium (Cd), (b) serum sex hormones, malondialdehyde (MDA), superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxidase (GPX), (c) interleukin-4 (IL-4), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), Bcl-2, Bax and caspase-3 expression in the testes, (d) assessment of apoptosis of testicular cells using electron microscopy and (e) testicular volume and histology using the orchidometer and Johnsen score, respectively. Results: The zinc deficient group showed a reduction of testicular volume, serum concentrations of Zn, Cu, Se, Mg, SOD, GPX, IL-4, Bcl-2 and testosterone (P < 0.05), as well as increased levels of serum Cd, MDA and tissue TNF-α, Bax, caspase-3 and apoptosis of the germ cells (P < 0.05) compared with control and zinc supplementation groups. Conclusion: Zinc deficiency is associated with impaired spermatogenesis because of reduced testosterone production, increased oxidative stress and apoptosis. These findings suggest that zinc has a role in male reproduction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-64
Number of pages8
JournalIndian Journal of Urology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Apoptosis
  • oxidative stress
  • sex hormones
  • spermatogenesis
  • zinc

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology

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