Aim: The aim of the present study was to investigate whether Tribulus terrestris Linn (TT) could protect the cadmium (Cd)-induced testicular tissue peroxidation in rats and to explore the underlying mechanism of the same.
Materials and methods: In vitro and in vivo studies were conducted to know the protective effect of ethanolic extract of TT (eTT) in Cd toxicity. In in vitro studies, total antioxidant and ferrous metal ion chelating activity of TT was studied. In vivo studies were conducted in rats. A total of 40 Wistar strain adult male rats were divided into four groups. Group 1 served as control, while group 2 to 4 received CdCl(2) (3 mg/kg b. wt. s/c once a week). In addition to Cd, group 3 and 4 rats also received eTT (5 mg/kg b.wt. daily as oral gavage) and α-tocopherol (75 mg/kg daily by oral gavage), respectively. At the end of 6(th) week, all the rats were sacrificed and the separated testes were weighted and processed for estimation of tissue peroxidation markers, antioxidant markers, functional markers, and Cd concentration. The testes were also subjected to histopathological screening.
Results: In in vitro studies, the percentage of metal ion chelating activity of 50 μg/ml of eTT and α-tocopherol were 2.76 and 9.39, respectively, and the antioxidant capacity of eTT was equivalent to 0.063 μg of α-tocopherol/μg of eTT. In in vivo studies, administration of Cd significantly reduced the absolute and relative testicular weight, antioxidant markers such as superoxide dismutase and glutathione, and functional markers such as LDH and ALP, along with significant increase in peroxidation markers such as malondialdehyde and protein carbonyls in testicular tissue. Testes of Cd only-treated group showed histological insults like necrotic changes in seminiferous tubules and interstitium, shrunken tubules with desquamated basal lamina, vacuolization and destruction of sertoli cells, and degenerating Leydig cells. This group also had higher Cd levels in testicular tissue. Co-treatment with eTT and α-tocopherol significantly reduced the Cd burden in the testes along with reversal of the Cd-induced changes.
Conclusions: eTT exhibited protective effect against Cd-induced testicular damage. The protective effect appears to be mediated through inhibition of testicular tissue peroxidation by antioxidant and metal chelator activity and also, may be indirectly by stimulating the testosterone production from Leydig cells.
Keywords: Cadmium; Tribulus terrestris; rats; α-tocopherol.