Aim: To evaluate the antifertility activity of the chloroform extract of Carica papaya seeds by oral administration in langur monkey, Presbytis entellus entellus.
Methods: The chloroform extract of Carica papaya seeds, 50 mg/kg/day, was administered orally for 360 days to adult male langur monkeys. The sperm characteristics by light and electron microscopy, the sperm functional tests, the semen biochemistry, the serum testosterone level, the Leydig cell function, and the histology and ultrastructure of testis were determined to evaluate the antifertility activity and the blood biochemistry and hematology, to evaluate the toxicology.
Results: The extract gradually decreased the sperm concentration since days 30-60 of treatment with a total inhibition of sperm motility, a decrease in sperm viability and increase in sperm abnormality. Azoospermia was observed after day 90 of treatment and continued during the whole treatment period. Treatment withdrawal resulted in a gradual recovery in these parameters and 150 days later they reverted to nearly the pretreatment values. Morphological observation of the ejaculated sperm by light and scanning electron microscopy showed deleterious changes, particularly on the mid-piece. Sperm functional tests, viz., sperm mitochondrial activity index, acrosome intactness test and hypo-osmotic swelling test scored in the infertile range during treatment and returned to the fertile values 150 days after drug withdrawal. Histology of the testis revealed shrunken tubules, germ cell atrophy and normal Leydig cells. Ultrastructure of the testis showed vacuolization in the cytoplasm of Sertoli cells and germ cells. Loss of cytoplasmic organelles were evident in the spermatocytes and spermatids. Round spermatids showed loss of Golgi bodies, peripheral mitochondria and vacuolated cytoplasm, indicating maturational arrest. Leydig cell functional test indicated a mild inhibition of steroidogenic function. Haematology and serum biochemistry study disclosed no significant toxicological effect and the serum testosterone level was not affected.
Conclusion: Carica papaya seed extract may selectively act on the developing germ cells, possibly mediated via Sertoli cells, leading to azoospermia.