Evaluation of testicular toxicity and sperm morphology in rats treated with methyl methanesulphonate (MMS).
ABSTRACT Methyl methanesulphonate (MMS), a potent alkylating agent and testicular toxicant, was orally administered to rats for 5 days at 40 mg/kg. During the recovery period of up to 5 weeks, males were evaluated for testicular toxicity and sperm morphology. The 5-week recovery period were designated as follows: Day 1 (the day after final treatment); Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4 and Week 5 (1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 weeks after final treatment). Morphologically abnormal sperm increased beginning in Week 3, peaked in Week 4 and declined slightly in Week 5. Histopathological examinations indicated retention of step 19 spermatids at stage IX from Day 1 through Week 3. Quantitative evaluation of spermatogenic cells indicated a decrease in the number of late pachytene spermatocytes and early spermatids on Day 1. TUNEL examination showed a significantly high frequency of apoptosis in the meiosis cells in Week 1. In the present study, genetic damage induced by treatment with MMS affected spermatogenesis and a wide variety of spermatogenic cells in the testis. Apoptosis in the course of meiosis seemed to be involved in the elimination process of genetically insulted germ cells, and this process seems to play an important role in eliminating and/or decreasing the germ cells with retention of spermatids and the potential to express morphologically abnormal spermatozoa.