Herein is reported the first evidence of the protective role of D-aspartic acid (D-Asp) in preventing the toxic effect exerted by the alkylating agent ethane dimethane sulfonate (EDS) in the rat testis. We confirmed that EDS treatment specifically destroyed Leydig cells (LC), resulting in the drastic decrease of the serum testosterone level and producing morphological changes in the germinal tubules, i.e., altered organization of the epithelium, loss of cell contacts and the consequent presence of empty spaces between them, and a reduce number of spermatozoa. Moreover, an increase of TUNEL-positive germ cells, other than alteration in the protein level and localization of two LC "markers", StAR and PREP, were observed. Interestingly, results obtained from rats pre-treated with D-Asp for 15 days before EDS-injection showed that all the considered parameters were quite normal. To explore the probable mechanism(s) involved in the protection exerted by D-Asp, we considered the increased oxidative stress induced by EDS and the D-Asp antioxidant effects. Thiobarbiturc acid-reactive species (TBARS) levels increased following EDS-injection, while no change was observed in the D-Asp + EDS treated rats. Our results showed that D-Asp may be used as a strategy to mitigate the toxic effects exerted by environmental pollutants, as endocrine disrupters, in order to preserve the reproductive function.
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