The exponentially increasing use of electromagnetic field (EMF)-emitting devices imposes substantial health burden on modern societies with particular concerns of male infertility. Limited studies have addressed the modulation of this risk by protective agents. We investigated the hazardous effects of rat exposure to EMF (900 MHz, 2 h/day for 8 weeks) on male fertility and evaluated the possible protective effect of the polyamine, spermine, against EMF-induced alterations. Exposure to EMF significantly decreased sperm count, viability and motility, and increased sperm deformities. EMF-exposed rats exhibited significant reductions in serum inhibin B and testosterone along with elevated activin A, follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone and estradiol concentrations. Testicular steroidogenic acute regulatory protein (StAR), c-kit mRNA expression and testicular activities of the key androgenic enzymes 3β- and 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases were significantly attenuated following exposure to EMF. Exposure led to testicular lipid peroxidation, decreased catalase and glutathione peroxidase activities and triggered nuclear factor-kappa B p65, inducible nitric oxide synthase, cyclooxygenase-2 and caspase-3 overexpression. EMF-exposed rats showed testicular DNA damage as indicated by elevated comet parameters. Spermine administration (2.5 mg/Kg/day intraperitoneally for 8 weeks) prevented EMF-induced alterations in the sperm and hormone profiles, StAR and c-kit expression and androgenic enzyme activities. Spermine hampered EMF-induced oxidative, inflammatory, apoptotic and DNA perturbations. Histological and histomorphometric analysis of the testes supported all biochemical findings. In conclusion, rat exposure to EMF disrupts sperm and hormone profiles with underlying impairment of steroidogenesis and spermatogenesis. Spermine confers protection against EMF-associated testicular and reproductive aberrations, at least in part, via antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-apoptotic mechanisms.
Keywords: Electromagnetic field; Sperm profile; Spermine; Steroid sex hormone; Testis; Toxicity.
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