Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 24, Issue 35, pp 27235–27243 | Cite as

Characterization of semen quality, testicular marker enzyme activities and gene expression changes in the blood testis barrier of Kunming mice following acute exposure to zearalenone

  • Miao Long
  • Shuhua Yang
  • Shuang Dong
  • Xinliang Chen
  • Yi ZhangEmail author
  • Jianbin HeEmail author
Research Article


A total of 95 8-week-old male Kunming mice were randomly assigned into five groups and exposed to zearalenone (ZEA) at doses of 25, 50, and 75 mg/kg delivered by intra-peritoneal (i.p.) injection for 5 days. The testis and epididymis indices involving sperm quality and morphology, testis enzyme activities, serum concentrations of testosterone and estrogen, and the expression levels of the three gene and protein of N-cadherin, vimentin, and claudin 11 related to the blood testis barrier (BTB) were analyzed. Results showed that ZEA significantly decreased body weight and semen quality compared to the control group along with increased activity of alkaline phosphatase (ALP), acid phosphatase (ACP), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), and reduced serum concentrations of testosterone and estrogen. At the mRNA and protein levels, expression of N-cadherin, vimentin, and claudin 11 significantly increased; however, the mRNA and protein of N-cad expression decreased. These data suggest acute exposure to ZEA reduces sperm quality and significantly decreases the concentration of serum testosterone and estradiol. In addition, the activities of the testis marker enzymes and associated mRNA and protein expressions of the BTB were also significantly affected. Our results demonstrated that ZEA has a significant impact on the reproductive parameters of male mice which showed compensatory response to strengthen the barrier function of the BTB following ZEA exposure.


Zearalenone Testis Sperm quality Blood testis barrier 



This work was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grants no. 31640084, grants no. 31302152, grants no. 31201961).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Zoonosis of Liaoning Province, College of Animal Science and Veterinary MedicineShenyang Agricultural UniversityShenyangChina

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