Acta Vet. Brno 2021, 90: 277-286

Reproductive toxicity of heavy metals in fallow deer in vitro

Ehdaa Eltayeb Eltigani Abdelsalam, Hana Banďouchová, Tomáš Heger, Miroslava Kaňová, Kateřina Kobelková, Monika Němcová, Vladimír Piaček, Jana Sedláčková, Veronika Seidlová, František Vitula, Jiří Pikula

University of Veterinary Sciences Brno, Faculty of Veterinary Hygiene and Ecology, Department of Ecology and Diseases of Zoo Animals, Game, Fish, and Bees, Brno, Czech Republic

Received October 21, 2020
Accepted August 31, 2021

Sertoli cells play a crucial role in male fertility through boosting and regulating the differentiation of spermatogonial stem cells into mature sperm during spermatogenesis. Female ovarian follicles are responsible for the production of mature ova and control of ovarian steroidogenesis. Disruption of these structures through exposure to environmental pollutants is critical for reproductive health. Here, we derived primary cell cultures of Sertoli cells and ovarian follicles from fallow deer (Dama dama). Cells were used as in vitro models to explore reproductive toxicity of heavy metals in wild species. Adverse effects of cadmium (CdCl2), methylmercury (MeHgCl2), and lead (PbCl2) were investigated through a range of equal molar concentrations (0, 15, 30, 60, 125, 250 µM). We found both concentration-dependent and independent cytotoxic patterns (P < 0.01, P < 0.05) in cells exposed to CdCl2, MeHgCl2, and PbCl2. Based on generation of lipid hydroperoxides, significant levels of cell oxidative perturbation were detected in the CdCl2 (P = 0.0001), PbCl2 (P = 0.001), and MeHgCl2 (P = 0.003) groups. Likewise, the antioxidant enzymes catalase and glutathione peroxidase were inhibited in all metal-treated groups (P < 0.01). Genotoxic DNA damage (single-strand break) was also observed (MeHgCl2 group, P = 0.002; CdCl2 and PbCl2 groups, P = 0.004). Increased activity of superoxide dismutase (P = 0.0002 and P = 0.01) was observed in MeHgCl2 and CdCl2, respectively. Cell apoptosis was detected in all the PbCl2 and CdCl2 (P = 0.00007) and MeHgCl2 (P = 0.001) groups. The results of this study can be used to characterize the responsiveness of fallow deer gonadal cells to the stress of toxic metal exposure.


This study was supported through Grant No. 226/2018/FVHE of the Internal Grant Agency of the University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences Brno. We are grateful to Dr. Kevin Roche for correction and improvement of the English text.


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