Effect of Fe and Cd Co-Exposure on Testicular Steroid Metabolism, Morphometry, and Spermatogenesis in Mice

  • Sunny O. AbarikwuEmail author
  • Adaba F. S. Wokoma
  • Chidimma J. Mgbudom-Okah
  • Stephen I. Omeodu
  • Robinson Ohanador


The mechanism of testicular toxicity of simultaneous multiple exposures to metals is poorly understood. Previous studies reported that the toxic effect of cadmium (Cd) is modified by tissue concentration of iron (Fe). Using the mice (Mus musculus) model in the present study, we demonstrated that combined Cd (25 mg kg−1 bw) and Fe (100 mg kg−1 bw) treatment increased both Cd and Fe testicular concentrations much more than separate exposures to either of the metals. Intratesticular Cd and Fe concentrations were inversely correlated (r = − 0.731, p < 0.05) on administration of Fe but not on combined exposure to both metals when they were positively correlated (versus Cd; r = 0.793, versus Fe; r = 0.779, p < 0.05). Additionally, Cd + Fe treatment increased testicular lipid peroxidation and depleted intratestesticular testosterone, cholesterol and glutathione concentrations much more than their separate treatment. This was also associated with decreased activity of the germ cell marker, testicular lactate dehydrogenase, and increased testicular myeloperoxidase activity. These changes resulted in decreased seminiferous epithelial height, tubular diameter, germ cell (spermatogonia, spermatocytes, and spermatids) numbers, and severe tissue damage. In conclusion, Cd + Fe intake have synergistic toxic effects on testicular steroid formation and spermatogenesis due to the high testicular concentrations of both metals.


Testis Epididymis Steroidogenesis Morphometry Concentration Metals 



Authors are grateful to the technical staff in the Postgraduate Research Laboratory of the Department of Biochemistry, University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria, for the handling of the equipment used in this study.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

All animal experiments were approved by Institutional Research Ethics Committee at the University of Port Harcourt, and the methodologies employed were in compliance with the policies and approaches of the National Institute of Health Guidelines for Animal Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (National Institute of Health Publication Number, 85–23).

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of Port HarcourtChobaNigeria

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