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Effect of subchronic oral exposure to zearalenone on the reproductive system of rabbit bucks

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  • 1 Diagnostic Laboratory, School of Veterinary Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, 546 27, Greece.
  • | 2 Clinic of Farm Animals, School of Veterinary Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, 546 27, Greece.
  • | 3 Clinic of Farm Animals, School of Veterinary Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, 546 27, Greece.
  • | 4 Laboratory of Pathology, School of Veterinary Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, 546 27, Greece.
  • | 5 Clinic of Farm Animals, School of Veterinary Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, 546 27, Greece.
  • | 6 Diagnostic Laboratory, School of Veterinary Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, 546 27, Greece.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To determine the effect of subchronic oral exposure to zearalenone (ZEA) at a daily dose of 50 μg of ZEA/kg of body weight (an environmentally relevant concentration) on the reproductive system of rabbit bucks.

ANIMALS 8 healthy sexually mature New Zealand White rabbits.

PROCEDURES During the experimental period (March to June), each rabbit underwent a 7-week control protocol and then a 7-week treatment protocol. Water (0.5 mL) or ZEA solution (50 μg/kg [0.5 mL]) was administered orally once daily during the control and treatment period, respectively; ejaculates were collected weekly. Studied end points included semen quality variables (spermatozoa kinetics, morphology, viability, and DNA fragmentation), serum testosterone concentration, and results of histologic examination of the testes and epididymides following euthanasia at the end of the experimental period.

RESULTS Treatment with ZEA solution resulted in significant increases in spermatozoa beat-cross frequency, in the percentages of spermatozoa with head and midpiece abnormalities, and in the percentages of DNA-fragmented spermatozoa, compared with effects of the control treatment. Serum testosterone concentration, other spermatozoa velocity variables, and percentages of progressive and total motility, rapidly or slowly moving spermatozoa, and live spermatozoa did not differ significantly between the 2 periods. Histologic examination revealed no patterns of abnormal findings in the testes and epididymides.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Oral treatment with ZEA solution at an enviromentally relevant concentration caused minor interference with rabbit bucks' sperm quality. Although mostly considered mild, the sperm quality changes warrant further investigation in terms of fertilizing capacity impairment.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To determine the effect of subchronic oral exposure to zearalenone (ZEA) at a daily dose of 50 μg of ZEA/kg of body weight (an environmentally relevant concentration) on the reproductive system of rabbit bucks.

ANIMALS 8 healthy sexually mature New Zealand White rabbits.

PROCEDURES During the experimental period (March to June), each rabbit underwent a 7-week control protocol and then a 7-week treatment protocol. Water (0.5 mL) or ZEA solution (50 μg/kg [0.5 mL]) was administered orally once daily during the control and treatment period, respectively; ejaculates were collected weekly. Studied end points included semen quality variables (spermatozoa kinetics, morphology, viability, and DNA fragmentation), serum testosterone concentration, and results of histologic examination of the testes and epididymides following euthanasia at the end of the experimental period.

RESULTS Treatment with ZEA solution resulted in significant increases in spermatozoa beat-cross frequency, in the percentages of spermatozoa with head and midpiece abnormalities, and in the percentages of DNA-fragmented spermatozoa, compared with effects of the control treatment. Serum testosterone concentration, other spermatozoa velocity variables, and percentages of progressive and total motility, rapidly or slowly moving spermatozoa, and live spermatozoa did not differ significantly between the 2 periods. Histologic examination revealed no patterns of abnormal findings in the testes and epididymides.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Oral treatment with ZEA solution at an enviromentally relevant concentration caused minor interference with rabbit bucks' sperm quality. Although mostly considered mild, the sperm quality changes warrant further investigation in terms of fertilizing capacity impairment.

Contributor Notes

Dr. Tsouloufi's present address is the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and the Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh, Easter Bush Campus, Midlothian, EH25 9RG, Scotland.

Address correspondence to Dr. Tsouloufi (theodora.tsouloufi@ed.ac.uk).