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Background: One of the consequences of increasing urbanization is that many people eat processed foods that contain various chemical substances applied as additives. Some of them may have the ability to suppress male fertility.
Aims: To determine the effects of sodium benzoate (NaB) on the histology of the testis, and biochemical and semen parameters in rats. The potential of Vitamin E to protect the testis was also studied.
Methodology: Six groups of 8 rats each were treated with these substances: Group A (Control) had olive oil. Groups B and C had 200 mg/kg of NaB with Vitamin E added to group C. Groups D and E had 400 mg/kg of NaB with Vitamin E added to group E. Groups F and G were given NaB only at 200 mgkg and 400 mg/kg respectively but were left for an extra 4 weeks after the last treatment dose. All groups were treated daily for 8weeks. Outcome measures were testosterone assays and cell counts and morphometry in the testis. We also examined biochemical parameters such as catalase, glutathione and malondialdehyde levels.
Results: This study showed that NaB impaired reproduction. Total sperm count in some treated groups were reduced to half (50%) of the count in control animals. There was reduction in anti-oxidant levels and elevation in markers of lipid peroxidation suggesting oxidative stress. There was histologic evidence of impaired spermatogenesis and considerable testicular damage with micrographs showing widespread germ cell loss and sloughing of germinal epithelium in many places. Vitamin E offered significant protection from testicular damage in the groups given the vitamin.
Conclusion: We conclude that NaB has the potential to impair fertility in rats and more studies are needed to determine its safety level in the male reproductive system.
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