Slimmer or Fertile? Pharmacological Mechanisms Involved in Reduced Sperm Quality and Fertility in Rats Exposed to the Anorexigen Sibutramine
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Sperm acquire motility and fertility capacity during epididymal transit, under the control of androgens and sympathetic innervations. It is already known that the acceleration of epididymal sperm transit time can lead to lower sperm quality. In a previous work we showed that rats exposed to the anorexigen sibutramine, a non-selective serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, presented faster sperm transit time, lower epididymal sperm reserves and potentiation of the tension of epididymal duct to norepinephrine exposed acutely in vitro to sibutramine. In the present work we aimed to further investigate pharmacological mechanisms involved in these alterations and the impact on rat sperm quality. For this, adult male Wistar rats were treated with sibutramine (10 mg/kg/day) or vehicle for 30 days. Sibutramine decreased final body, seminal vesicle, ventral prostate and epididymal weights, as well as sperm transit time in the epididymal cauda. On the contrary of the in vitro pharmacological assays, in which sibutramine was added directly to the bath containing strips of distal epididymal cauda, the ductal tension was not altered after in vivo sub-chronic exposure to sibutramine. However, there is pharmacological evidence that the endogenous epididymal norepinephrine reserves were reduced in these animals. It was also shown that the decrease in prostate weight can be related to increased tension developed of the gland, due to sibutramine sympathomimetic effects. In addition, our results showed reduced sperm quality after in utero artificial insemination, a more sensitive procedure to assess fertility in rodents. The epididymal norepinephrine depletion exerted by sibutramine, associated with decreases in sperm transit time, quantity and quality, leading to reduced fertility in this experimental model, reinforces the concerns about the possible impact on fertility of man taking sibutramine as well as other non-selective serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, especially considering the lower reproductive efficiency of humans compared to males of other species. © 2013 Borges et al.
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