Epididymal sperm motion in rats was characterized by computer-aided sperm motion analysis (CASA) with its correlation to testicular lesions in the 2-week treatment study, using three compounds which are known to affect different stages of germ cells. Mature male rats were treated daily for 2 weeks with α-chlorohydrin (α-CH, 5 mg/kg), cyclophosphamide (CP, 20 mg/kg) or nitrazepam (NZ, 20, 40, 60 mg/kg). Changes in sperm motion were detected only in the α-CH and 60-mg/kg NZ-treated groups. Of the sperm motion parameters, velocity and amplitude of lateral head displacement (ALH) were concomitantly reduced in these two groups with good correlation. With respect to the distribution of the values in parameters, however, α-CH shifted the values down within a small range with high percentages of motile sperm, while NZ distributed them over a wide range with low percentages of motile sperm. CP treatment showed no histopathological changes in advanced germ cells, though it showed a decrease in the number of early germ cells. NZ treatment affected round and elongating spermatids (∼step 14) at doses of 20 and 40 mg/kg, and affected also more advanced spermatids (∼step 19) at the dose of 60 mg/kg. α-CH treatment did not affect testicular histopathology. These findings indicate that 60-mg/kg NZ treatment reduced sperm motion as a result of lesions affected in elongated spermatids and α-CH reduced it by direct effects on epididymal spermatozoa. The present study indicates that in addition to percentage of motile sperm, the velocity and ALH can be useful to detect the changes in sperm motion caused by different actions of NZ and α-CH, though each compound showed a distinct distribution pattern of these parameters.
The Japanese Society of Toxicology Headquarters