Resveratrol, a natural aryl hydrocarbon receptor antagonist, protects sperm from DNA damage and apoptosis caused by benzo(a)pyrene Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Benzo(a)pyrene (BaP), an aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) ligand present in cigarette smoke and car exhaust, is thought to have negative effects on male reproduction. We hypothesized that BaP damages sperm through AhR activation, phase I enzyme induction, DNA adduct formation, and increased germ cell apoptosis in the testis, and that resveratrol, a natural competitive inhibitor of the AhR found in some red wines, could prevent the adverse effects of BaP on sperm. Male Balb C mice were injected subcutaneously (s.c.) for 5 weeks with a range of BaP doses (0.5 mg/kg to 50 mg/kg). Live sperm were obtained from the vas deferens, counted, and stained to measure annexin-V positive (apoptotic) cells. In a subsequent study, mice were injected for 5 weeks with corn oil (control), BaP (5 mg/kg/week), or BaP plus resveratrol (50 mg/kg/week) (n = 3 per group). Immunohistochemistry (IHC) was performed on testis sections for the determination of CYP1A1, BaP diol epoxide (BPDE) DNA adducts, and apoptosis and the results quantified by using the HSCORE, a semiquantitative scoring system. Our results demonstrated that sperm counts after 5 weeks were inversely correlated to BaP dosage. BaP (0.5 to 5 mg/week) positively correlated with sperm apoptosis while higher doses increased sperm necrosis. CYP1A1 protein was observed mainly in interstitial cells of some testis sections, but there was no significant induction by BaP. BPDE DNA adducts were induced in all components of the seminiferous tubules by BaP and suppressed by resveratrol: median HSCORE (interquartile range) control 61 (52-71.5); BaP 213 (192-248), P = 0.01 compared to control; BaP plus resveratrol 83 (70-90). BaP significantly increased apoptosis, mainly in spermatogonia: medain HSCORE (interquartile range) BaP 189 (161-223) versus control 83 (57-93), P < 0.01; and this effect was abrogated by resveratrol. Median HSCORE for BaP plus resveratrol was 112 (range 99-121). In summary, BaP caused increased sperm cell BPDE DNA adduct formation and apoptosis in the mouse. The natural AhR antagonist, resveratrol diminished BaP-induced DNA adducts and apoptosis in seminiferous tubules.


  • Revel, Ariel
  • Raanani, Hila
  • Younglai, Edward
  • Xu, Jing
  • Han, Robin
  • Savouret, Jean-Francois
  • Casper, Robert F

publication date

  • September 2001

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