Benzene is well established as a cause of cancer in humans. Widespread exposure to benzene has stimulated research into the possible existence of its toxic effects on the reproductive organs. The present study was therefore undertaken to assess the effects of benzene on male reproductive organs. Benzene at the dose levels of 50 mg and 100 mg/kg body weight/day was administered orally to male rats for 90 days to evaluate the toxic alterations in testicular biochemistry, sperm dynamics and histology. The body weight of the animals did not show any significant change; however, significant reduction in the weight of the testes was recorded. Benzene also brought about a marked reduction in epididymal and testicular sperm counts in treated males. Histology of the benzene-exposed testes showed mild to severe degenerative changes in the seminiferous tubules at low and high dose levels. Testicular glycogen and sialic acid levels were reduced significantly whereas the protein and cholesterol content was significantly elevated. All these toxic effects were moderate at low doses and severe at higher dose exposure. From the results of the present study it is concluded that benzene induces severe testicular damage and results in reduction in sperm count after sub chronic exposure and thus affects fertility. The present study indicates that benzene is a potent testicular toxicant.
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