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Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 815186, 9 pages
Research Article

The Effects of Chronic Ingestion of Mercuric Chloride on Fertility and Testosterone Levels in Male Sprague Dawley Rats

1Department Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Nursing and Allied Health, Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, AL 36088, USA
2Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Pharmacology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36049, USA

Received 21 March 2012; Accepted 6 May 2012

Academic Editor: João B. T. Rocha

Copyright © 2012 John C. Heath et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Although male infertility is well researched, the effects of inorganic mercury on male reproduction and fertility are less well known. Studies pertaining to mercury and male fertility identified reduced concentration of testosterone in the serum of male workers, a toxic influence on fertility of organic mercury compounds within concentrations at the workplace, and increased days to pregnancy. We evaluated the effect of chronic mercuric chloride (HgCl2) exposure in male rats on reproductive endpoints. Thirty-day old male Sprague Dawley rats ( 𝑛 = 3 1 ) were exposed to 0.0, 1.0, or 2.0 mg/kg/day of HgCl2 via gavage. After 60 days exposure, they were housed with nonexposed females for 21 days. A survivor analysis revealed the exposed animals took longer to impregnate the females and had a lower rate of impregnation. Further statistical analysis revealed a lower correlation between testicular testosterone levels and days to impregnate, and also lower sperm counts in the epididymis head and body of the exposed males. The results indicate that HgCl2 exposure had significant adverse effects on male rat reproduction endpoints including fertility at a dose that was not clinically toxic.