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Open Access Zinc-Induced Survival of Leydig Cells in Fischer Rats (Rattus norvegicus) Treated with Cadmium Chloride

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Zinc is known to prevent cadmium-induced carcinogenesis and Leydig cell destruction in rat testes; however, the mechanism of action is not known, although it has been suggested that pituitary feedback increases the production of luteinizing hormone (LH) in response to low circulating androgen. We therefore examined the biological role of zinc in reducing cadmium toxicity in the Leydig cells of Fischer rats. Two groups of eleven 6-month-old rats were injected subcutaneously with 20 mol CdCl2/kg weekly for 5 weeks; one of these groups also received 1 mmol/kg zinc acetate weekly for the same 5 weeks. A third group of rats received 1 mmol/kg zinc acetate weekly, and a fourth group was injected with saline weekly for 5 weeks. After 8 months of study, the animals were euthanized by CO2 inhalation. The results indicated that the number of surviving Leydig cells was significantly lower in the cadmium group (7.34%=0.095 × 109/cm3) than in the cadmium–zinc group (20.85%) or control animals (91.2%). Moreover, the concentrations of serum testosterone and LH were significantly higher in the cadmium group than in any of the other groups. This difference probably was due to the testosterone produced by a small reservoir of surviving Leydig cells and to other endocrine factors. These findings suggest that Fischer rat testis may be a good model system for testing the effects of cadmium and zinc on the production of LH and testosterone and other androgens before spontaneous cancers develop.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Médicas y Nutrición Salvador Zubirán 2: Instituto Nacional de Pediatría 3: Hospital Santa Elena. México, D.F. México

Publication date: December 1, 2005

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  • Comparative Medicine (CM), an international journal of comparative and experimental medicine, is the leading English-language publication in the field and is ranked by the Science Citation Index in the upper third of all scientific journals. The mission of CM is to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed information that expands biomedical knowledge and promotes human and animal health through the study of laboratory animal disease, animal models of disease, and basic biologic mechanisms related to disease in people and animals.

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