Cytotoxicity, genotoxicity, oxidative stress, apoptosis, and cell cycle arrest in human Sertoli cells exposed to boric acid

J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2022 Mar:70:126913. doi: 10.1016/j.jtemb.2021.126913. Epub 2021 Dec 16.


Background: Boron, which is used in a range of industries worldwide, is an essential micronutrient for plants and "probably essential" for humans. Conflicting reports have been published regarding the toxicity of boron compounds. Moreover, boric acid and sodium borates are classified as toxic to development and reproduction in the European Union-Classification, Labelling and Packaging Regulation (EU-CLP Regulation). The scope of our study was to ascertain whether boric acid caused the cytotoxic and genotoxic effects, as well as oxidative stress, apoptosis, and cell cycle profiles on human Sertoli cells.

Methods: The possible toxic effects of boric acid on human Sertoli cells were investigated by in vitro methods. The cellular viability and DNA damage were examined by neutral red uptake and alkaline comet assay, respectively. Oxidative stress, apoptosis, and cell cycle arrest profiles were analyzed by flow cytometry.

Results: Boric acid was neither cytotoxic nor genotoxic in a wide concentration range (0.5-1000 μM) on human Sertoli cells. No significant difference in the DNA damage was observed between boric acid-treated and control groups (p > 0.05). Boric acid did not stimulate oxidative stress, apoptosis, and cell cycle arrest within the tested concentrations.

Conclusion: Our study provides novel insights into the influences of boric acid on human Sertoli cells which are used as a model in male reproductive toxicity studies. The concentrations tested in our study were extremely higher than the blood and semen boron levels reported in epidemiological studies.

Keywords: Apoptosis; Boric acid; Cell cycle; Comet assay; Cytotoxicity; Genotoxicity.

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis
  • Boric Acids* / toxicity
  • Cell Cycle Checkpoints
  • DNA Damage
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Sertoli Cells*


  • Boric Acids
  • boric acid