This study examined the effect of sodium fluoride, a water pollutant important through the world, including India, on testicular steroidogenic and gametogenic activities in relation to testicular oxidative stress in rats. Sodium fluoride treatment at 20mg/kg/day for 29 days by oral gavage resulted in significant diminution in the relative wet weight of the testis, prostate, and seminal vesicle without alteration in the body weight gain. Testicular delta(5),3beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (HSD) and 17beta-HSD activities were decreased significantly along with significant diminution in plasma levels of testosterone in the fluoride-exposed group compared to the control. Epididymal sperm count was decreased significantly in the fluoride-treated group and qualitative examination of testicular sections revealed fewer mature luminal spermatozoa in comparison to the control. The seminiferous tubules were dilated in treated animals. Fluoride treatment was associated with oxidative stress as indicated by an increased level of conjugated dienes in the testis, epididymis, and epididymal sperm pellet with respect to control. Peroxidase and catalase activities in the sperm pellet were decreased significantly in comparison to the control. The results of this experiment indicate that fluoride at a dose encountered in drinking water in contaminated areas exerts an adverse effect on the male reproductive system and this effect is associated with indicators of oxidative stress.
Copyright 2002 Elsevier Science Inc.