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Hexavalent Chromium and Male Reproduction: An Update

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A number of reports during the last few decades have shown that human fertility has been declining with rising environmental pollutants. Epidemiological and experimental studies performed during the last three decades have established that exposure to excess hexavalent chromium [Cr(VI)] as one of the major threats to male reproductive health. Rapid industrialization and inappropriate discharge of Cr-contaminated effluents from a variety of industries contribute to environmental Cr(VI) contamination. Consumption of excess Cr(VI) either through drinking water or air or food adversely affects spermatogenesis and steroidogenesis in the testis and post-testicular sperm maturation in the epididymis, leading to subfertility/ infertility. The multiprong attacks of Cr(VI) lead to sperm anomalies such as low sperm count, reduced sperm motility and viability, compromise in the integrity of acrosome, damage to blood-testis barrier in Sertoli cells leading to disruption of spermatogenesis at round spermatid stage. Leydig cells, present in the interstitial compartment of the testis, are extremely vulnerable to Cr(VI) toxicity resulting in subdued activity /function of the key components of steroidogenic machinery, culminating in hypoandrogenism, which in turn affects the regulation of spermatogenesis and post-testicular sperm maturation. The present review attempts to enlighten the readers about the points mentioned above. We propose the hypothesis “exposure to excess Cr(VI) during critical periods of differentiation and maturation of the testis disrupts the hypothalamo-hypophyseal-testicular axis by inducing oxidative stress and thus, affecting male fertility.”

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Correspondence to Mariajoseph Michael Aruldhas.

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Navin, A.K., Aruldhas, M.M. Hexavalent Chromium and Male Reproduction: An Update. Proc Zool Soc 74, 617–633 (2021).

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