OBJECTIVES: Considering the possibility that alcoholism induces gonadal dysfunction, the present work was designed to investigate the morphophysiology of rat testes submitted to experimental alcoholism.
METHODS: Male Sprague-Dawley rats weighing 150+/-5 gm were chronically given 40% ethanol solution at a dose of 3 g/kg body weight for 30 days. (3)H-thymidine autoradiographic investigations and histological studies were carried out to determine the proliferative activity and/or different stages of spermatogenesis in the seminiferous tubule cycle and Leydig cells.
RESULTS: The 3H-thymidine autoradigraphic investigation revealed that there was a significant inhibition in the proliferative activity of the spermatogonia in all stages of the seminiferous tubule cycle in the alcohol-treated rats versus controls as indicated by the values of (3)H-labelling indices. The histological and numerical investigations indicated that the alcohol-treated rats presented testicular lesions including a significant decrease in the diameter of the seminiferous tubules, the number of different germ cells in all stages of the seminiferous tubule cycle and the presence of degenerative germ cells. In addition, there was a significant decrease in the number of Leydig cells.
CONCLUSION: The present work suggests the deleterious effects of alcohol on the testes. These effects may be due to the effect of alcohol on the gonadotrophic cells of the pituitary gland and/or directly on the seminiferous tubules and Leydig cells.