Bachground: Lead is considered an important cause of the infertility among occupational workers .The present work was done to study the histological changes in the testicles of adult albino rats after lead treatment for different periods, and the role of vitamin E in minimizing these changes.
Material and Methods: Forty five adult rats were used in this study. They divided equally into three groups; Group I.'-(control). GroupII, was subdivided into subgroups IIa,IIb, and lie that received lead acetate for one, two and three months respectively. GroupIII, was subdivided into subgroups IIIa& IIIb& IIIc that received prophylactic vitamm E followed by lead acetate for one, two and three months respectively. The testis was dissected out, processed for examination by light and electron microscope.
Results: Lead treatment induced shrinkage in some tubules and loss of germ cells while the remaining cells exhibited pyknotic nuclei with vacuolated cytoplasm. Also proliferation of the interstitial tissue. With increase the duration of lead acetate treatment there was progression in all previous changes in addition to the appearance of multinucleated giant cells. Ultrastructurally, the most characteristic features observed were the apoptosis of the germ cells and Sertoli cells as well as Leydig cells, also degenerative changes specially in mitochondria Combined treatment of vitamin E and lead exhibited marked improvement in most of the previously mentioned changes.
Conclusion: Oxidative stress is a major cause of lead induced testicular damage. Using an antioxidant as vitamin E interferes with the reactive oxygen species production and improves lead toxicity.