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The Effect of Aluminum Exposure on Reproductive Ability in the Bank Vole (Myodes glareolus)

Miska-Schramm, Agata, Kapusta, Joanna, Kruczek, Małgorzata
Biological trace element research 2017 v.177 no.1 pp. 97-106
Clethrionomys glareolus, abnormal development, accessory sex glands, adults, aluminum, anthropogenic activities, body weight, ecosystems, environmental impact, epididymis, females, head, herbivores, males, models, reproductive performance, rodents, spermatozoa, testes, uterus
Human impact on the environment is steadily increasing the amounts of aluminum in the ecosystems. This element accumulates in plants and water, potentially exposing herbivores to its harmful effect. In heavily polluted sites, a decrease in the density of small rodent populations has been observed. This decline may be caused by many factors, including decreased fertility. The aim of the presented research was to determine how aluminum, administered at concentrations similar to those recorded in industrial districts (Al I = 3 mg/l, Al II = 200 mg/l), affects the reproductive abilities of small rodents. As the indicators of reproductive abilities, body weight, weight of the testes and accessory sex glands of males, and uterus weight of females were estimated. In females, the number of matured follicles (types 6, 7, and 8) was analyzed, while in males, the quantity and quality (matured, viable, swollen, motile, head abnormalities) of epididymal sperm cells were assessed. Moreover, the development of testes, measured by spermatogenic index, was determined. The model species was the bank vole. Our results have proven that aluminum impairs adult individuals’ reproductive abilities by decreasing the quality and quantity of sperm cells and by causing morphologically abnormal development of the gonads. However, no difference in male organometric parameters was found, and only in females treated with 3 mg/l Al, the uterus weight was higher than control. No differences were found in the total number of matured follicles. These results suggest that the decline in rodent numbers in industrial districts is due, at least in part, to poorer males’ reproductive abilities, resulting from exposure to aluminum contamination.