Changes in Rat Testis and Sperm Count after Acute Treatment with Sodium Nitrite

BAS, Institute of Experimental Morphology, Pathology and Anthropology with Museum, BG – 1113 Sofia, Bulgaria


Pavlova, E., D. Dimova, E. Petrova, Y. Gluhcheva and N. Atanassova, 2013. Changes in rat testis and sperm count after acute treatment with sodium nitrite. Bulg. J. Agric. Sci., Supplement 2, 19: 186–189


Sodium nitrite (NaNO2) is an inorganic salt with various industrial applications. The adverse health effects of NaNO2 in animals and humans are typically due to the formation of methemoglobin in the blood. This can lead to cyanosis and, at very high levels, death. Humans are constantly exposed to sodium nitrite through food and drinking water. The aim of the present study is to follow up the changes in rat testis and sperm count after acute treatment with NaNO2. Four-month-old male Wistar rats were intraperitoneally injected with NaNO2 at dose of 50–1 body weight (distilled water for controls). Treated animals were sacrificed at different time intervals (1 h, 5 h, 24 h and 48 h) following the administration. Testes and epididymides were sampled, weighed and embedded in paraffin using routine histological practice. Spermatozoa were isolated from both vasa deferentia and counted. Preliminary histological observations of the testis of some experimental animals demonstrated disorganization of seminiferous epithelium and assemblance of undifferentiated germ cells in the luminal area of the tubules. Testis weight/body weight index was increased in the first hours after administration, which is probably due to higher seminal fluid volume. Statistically significant reduction in sperm count ranging between 480–1 (fifth hour) and 280–1 (48 h) was observed. These results may be associated with impaired hormonal balance and tissue anoxia – an adverse environment for germ cell development. In conclusion, acute treatment with NaNO2 affects testis morphology, some weight indices and sperm count in mature rats.

Key words: rat testis, sodium nitrite, sperm count
Abbreviations: MetHb – methemoglobin; ns – not significant; BW – body weight; TW – testis weight; EpiW – epididymal weight;  Sz count – spermatozoa count

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