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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Influence of Vitamin C and Vitamin E on testicular zinc content and testicular toxicity in lead exposed albino rats

Oluseyi C Ayinde*, Sunday Ogunnowo and Rita A Ogedegbe

Author Affiliations

Department of Biochemistry, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Idi-Araba, Lagos, Nigeria

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BMC Pharmacology and Toxicology 2012, 13:17  doi:10.1186/2050-6511-13-17

Published: 14 December 2012



Occupational and environmental exposures to lead remain a public health problem as lead alters physiological processes by inducing oxidative stress and mimicking divalent cations. This study was designed to investigate the effects of Vitamin C (VC) and Vitamin E (VE) on the reproductive function of lead exposed male rats. Experimental animals were exposed to oral doses of lead, VC and VE at 60 mg/kg body weight, 40 mg/kg body weight, and 150 mg/kg body weight respectively, while control animals received 0.9% saline solution. Oral administration spanned for six weeks after which changes in testicular redox status, lead deposition, testicular zinc content, serum androgen content, semen quality and testis histology were examined.


There were significant (p < 0.05) increases in oxidative stress indices and testicular lead content. A significant (p < 0.05) depletion of zinc in the testis of lead exposed animals was also observed. Fluctuations were observed in androgen levels of lead treated animals with a significant increase (p < 0.05) in Serum follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and testosterone (TT) content, while there was no significant change in luteinizing hormone (LH) content. Testicular tissue showed an alteration in its normal histology with degeneration of the seminiferous epithelium accompanied by a significant reduction (p < 0.05) in the number of luminal spermatozoa. A downgrade in the semen appearance and semen quality –sperm motility, morphology, and count was also observed after lead exposure. VC and VE treatment showed a significant (p < 0.05) reversal of the physiological alteration induced by lead.


Lead exposure resulted in a decline in the reproductive function of male rats by inducing oxidative stress, inhibiting enzymes and depleting testicular zinc contents. However, results clearly showed that VC and VE attenuated the deleterious impact of lead on the reproductive system.

Lead; Zinc; Vitamin C; Vitamin E; Oxidative stress; Testicular toxicity