Herein, we further document the protective action of melatonin (MLT) in mitigating cadmium (Cd) effects on adult rat testis. Cd treatment provoked testicular injury, that was documented by histological and biomolecular alterations, i.e., decrease of serum and testicular testosterone concentration and modified sperm parameters. Mainly, both the cytoarchitecture of the blood-testis barrier (BTB) and germ cell morphology were perturbed, as highlighted by impairment in structural (OCN, VANGL, Cx43) and regulative (Src and FAK) protein levels and/or activation. The study focused on the involvement of the autophagy pathway, that was enhanced especially in the Sertoli cells, probably in response to the disorganization of the BTB. Results obtained with the MLT co-treatment demonstrated that its administration decreased the level of oxidative damage caused by Cd, with reversal of all the observed changes. Moreover, the beneficial effects of MLT alone were evidenced by an increase of sperm quality, in term of motility and DNA integrity. The combined results, obtained in rat, strongly encourage to consider a role for MLT in improving also human testicular health, not only in men exposed to Cd, but also in those having fertility disorders, to ameliorate sperm quality and, consequently, reproductive success.
- Blood-testis barrier
- Endocrine disrupters
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis