Effect of the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus on the expression of genes involved in European eel spermatogenesis

Theriogenology. 2015 Nov;84(8):1321-31. doi: 10.1016/j.theriogenology.2015.07.011. Epub 2015 Jul 17.


Positive effects of probiotics on fish reproduction have been reported in several species. In the present study, 40 male European eels were weekly treated with recombinant hCG for 9 weeks and with three different concentrations (10(3), 10(5), and 10(6) CFU/mL) of probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus IMC 501 (Sinbyotec, Italy). The probiotics were daily added to the water from the sixth week of the hCG treatment. Males from the treated and control groups were sacrificed after 1, 2, and 3 weeks of probiotic treatment (seventh-ninth weeks of hCG treatment); at this point, sperm and testis samples were also collected. Sperm volume was estimated, and motility was analyzed by computer-assisted sperm analysis software. Alternations in transcription of specific genes involved in reproductive process such as activin, androgen receptors α and β (arα and arβ), progesterone receptor 1 (pr1), bone morphogenetic protein 15 (bmp15), and FSH receptor (fshr) were analyzed in the testis. After 2 weeks of probiotic treatment, sperm production and sperm motility parameters (percentage of motile cells and percentage of straight-swimming spermatozoa) were increased in the European eel treated with 10(5) CFU/mL compared to controls or to the other probiotic doses. These changes were associated with increases in messenger RNA expression of activin, arα, arβ, pr1, and fshr. Conversely, after 3 weeks, activin and pr1 expression decreased. No significant changes were observed on bmp15 expression throughout the duration of the treatment with 10(5) CFU/mL dose. The lowest and highest probiotic dose (10(3) and 10(6) CFU/mL, respectively) inhibited the transcription of all genes along all the experiment, except for arα and arβ after 1 week of probiotic treatment when compared to controls. The changes observed by transcriptomic analysis and the sperm parameters suggest that a treatment with L rhamnosus at 10(5) CFU/mL for 2 weeks could improve spermatogenesis process in Anguilla anguilla.

Keywords: Anguilla anguilla; Computer-assisted sperm analysis system; Lactobacillus rhamnosus; Messenger RNA level; Probiotic; Spermatogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anguilla / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Chorionic Gonadotropin / pharmacology
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus*
  • Male
  • Probiotics / pharmacology*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Reproduction / drug effects
  • Semen Analysis / veterinary
  • Sperm Motility / drug effects
  • Spermatogenesis / drug effects*
  • Spermatozoa / drug effects
  • Testis / drug effects
  • Testis / growth & development


  • Chorionic Gonadotropin
  • RNA, Messenger