Animal Reproduction (AR)
Animal Reproduction (AR)

Arsenic exposure and its implications in male fertility

Mariana Machado-Neves

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Arsenic exposure is a global health concern. This toxic metalloid is ubiquitous in the environment and contaminates food and drinking water. Once ingested, it undergoes a complex metabolic process within the body, which contributes to its accumulation and reactivity. Arsenic toxicity stems from the induction of oxidative stress, inhibition of thiol-containing proteins, and mimicry of inorganic phosphates. Arsenic poisoning is associated with the development of reproductive disorders. In males, arsenic causes a reduction in testicular weight and alterations in steroidogenesis and spermatogenesis. Moreover, it reduces the number and quality of spermatozoa harvested from the cauda epididymis. The mitochondria are targets of arsenic toxicity because of the production of free radicals and their high content of cysteine-rich proteins and fatty acids. Mitochondrial dysfunction may contribute to reproductive disorders because this organelle is crucial for controlling testicular and epididymal events related to sperm production and maturation. All of these alterations mediated by arsenic exposure contribute to the failure of male reproductive competence by reducing gamete viability. This review describes the potential mechanisms of arsenic toxicity, its detrimental effects on male reproductive organs, and consequences on sperm fertility.


arsenite, epididymis, male reproduction, oxidative stress, mitochondria


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