Background: Pathogenesis of Bothrops envenomations is complex and despite numerous studies on the effects of this snake venom on various biological systems, relatively little is known about such effects on the male reproductive system. In the present study, the toxicological outcomes of the low molecular weight fraction (LMWF) of B. jararaca snake venom - containing a range of bioactive peptides - were investigated on the dynamics and structure of the seminiferous epithelium and 15P-1 Sertoli cells viability. Methods: LMWF (5 µg/dose per testis) venom was administered in male Swiss mice by intratesticular (i.t.) injection. Seven days after this procedure, the testes were collected for morphological and morphometric evaluation, distribution of claudin-1 in the seminiferous epithelium by immunohistochemical analyses of testes, and the nitric oxide (NO) levels were evaluated in the total extract of the testis protein. In addition, the toxicological effects of LMWF and crude venom (CV) were analyzed on the 15P-1 Sertoli cell culture. Results: LMWF induced changes in the structure and function of the seminiferous epithelium without altering claudin-1 distribution. LMWF effects were characterized especially by lost cells in the adluminal compartment of epithelium (spermatocytes in pachytene, preleptotene spermatocytes, zygotene spermatocytes, and round spermatid) and different stages of the seminiferous epithelium cycle. LMWF also increased the NO levels in the total extract of the testis protein and was not cytotoxic in concentrations and time tested in the present study. However, CV showed cytotoxicity at 10 μg/mL from 6 to 48 h of treatment. Conclusions: The major finding of the present study was that the LMWF inhibited spermatozoa production; principally in the spermiogenesis stage without altering claudin-1 distribution in the basal compartment. Moreover, NO increased by LMWF induce open of complexes junctions and release the germ cells of the adluminal compartment to the seminiferous tubule.
Keywords: Bothrops jararaca; Snake venom; Bradykinin-potentiating peptides; Testis; Seminiferous epithelium; 15P-1 Sertoli cells; Spermatogenesis.