Methyl-parathion decreases sperm function and fertilization capacity after targeting spermatocytes and maturing spermatozoa
Paternal germline exposure to organophosphorous pesticides (OP) has been associated with reproductive failures and adverse effects in the offspring. Methyl parathion (Me-Pa), a worldwide-used OP, has reproductive adverse effects and is genotoxic to sperm. Oxidative damage has been involved in the genotoxic and reproductive effects of OP. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of Me-Pa on spermatozoa function and ability to fertilize. Male mice were exposed to Me-Pa (20 mg/kg bw, i.p.) and spermatozoa from epididymis-vas deferens were collected at 7 or 28 days post-treatment (dpt) to assess the effects on maturing spermatozoa and spermatocytes, respectively. DNA damage was evaluated by nick translation (NT-positive cells) and SCSA (percentDFI); lipoperoxidation (LPO) by malondialdehyde production; sperm function by spontaneous- and induced-acrosome reactions (AR); mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) by using the JC-1 flurochrome; and, fertilization ability by an in vitro assay and in vivo mating. Results showed alterations in DNA integrity (percentDFI and NT-positive cells) at 7 and 28 dpt, in addition to decreased sperm quality and a decrease in induced-AR; reduced MMP and LPO was observed only at 7 dpt. We found negative correlations between LPO and all sperm alterations. Altered sperm functional parameters were associated with reduced fertilization rates at both times, evaluated either in vitro or in vivo. These results show that Me-Pa exposure of maturing spermatozoa and spermatocytes affects many sperm functional parameters that result in a decreased fertilizing capacity. Oxidative stress seems to be a likely mechanism of the detrimental effects of Me-Pa in male germ cells.