Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in the world. Several studies have investigated the effects of glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs) on male reproduction, but there is still little and conflicting evidence for its toxicity. In this study, we analyzed the effects of glyphosate, alone or in formula, on the male reproductive system. Pregnant mice were treated from E10.5 to 20 days postpartum by adding glyphosate or a GBH (Roundup 3 Plus) to their drinking water at 0.5 (the acceptable daily intake, ADI dose), 5 and 50 mg/kg/day. Male offspring derived from treated mice were sacrificed at 5, 20, and 35 days old (d.o.) and 8 months old (m.o.) for analysis. Our result showed that exposure to glyphosate, but not GBH, affects testis morphology in 20 d.o. and decrease serum testosterone concentrations in 35 d.o. males. We identified that the spermatozoa number decreased by 89% and 84% in 0.5 and 5 mg/kg/day of GBH and glyphosate groups, respectively. Moreover, the undifferentiated spermatogonia numbers were decreased by 60% in 5 mg/kg/day glyphosate group, which could be due to the alterations in the expression of genes involved in germ cell differentiation such as Sall4 and Nano3 and apoptosis as Bax and Bcl2. In 8 m.o. animals, a decreased testosterone level was observed in GBH groups. Our data demonstrate that glyphosate and GBHs could cause endocrine-disrupting effects on male reproduction at low doses. As glyphosate has effects at the ADI level, our data suggest that the current ADI for glyphosate could be overestimated.
Keywords: differentiation; glyphosate; reproduction; roundup; spermatogenesis.
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