Exposure to heavy metals contributes to most of the unexplained male infertility. Lead (Pb) is a well- known heavy metal, which disrupt the male reproductive system. This study was conducted to investigate the therapeutic and protective effects of green tea active principle, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), on the lead toxicity-induced infertility in male rats. Male albino rats receiving lead acetate (PbAc, 50 mg/l) once a daily in drinking water showed reduction of spermatozoa count and motility, diminishing the weights of testes, seminal vesicle and epididymis, low level of serum testosterone and 17β-estradiol (E2), and degenerative changes in seminiferous tubules. Additionally, the Pb exposure caused a testicular oxidative stress with a decrease in the activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase (GPX) and catalase (CAT) enzymes, a remarkable rising in malondialdehyde (MDA) levels, as well as a downregulation in P450 aromatase gene expression (Cyp19) in the rats' testicular tissues. These adverse effects of Pb were ameliorated by EGCG treatment, which increased testosterone, E2 serum level, and aromatase P450 gene expression, and improved testicular architecture and semen picture. Additionally, EGCG decreased the tissue levels of MDA and retained the levels of antioxidative enzymes. In conclusion, EGCG administration can provide a significant protection against testicular toxicity caused by pb, indicating the beneficial roles of EGCG on the male reproductive system.
Keywords: Aromatase P450 gene; EGCG; Estradiol; Lead; Male infertility; Oxidative stress.
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