Table of Contents
ISRN Toxicology
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 397524, 6 pages
Research Article

Cytotoxic Effects of Benzene Metabolites on Human Sperm Function: An In Vitro Study

Department of Human Genetics, Biomedical Technology and Zoology, Gujarat University, Ahmedabad, Gujarat 380009, India

Received 19 September 2013; Accepted 23 October 2013

Academic Editors: A. Cruz, A. I. Haza, M. G. Robson, and M. P. Singh

Copyright © 2013 Priyanka Mandani 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.


In recent years, individuals are rampantly exposed to vapours of benzene, through paint, plastic, petroleum industries, fuel exhaust, and tobacco smoke. Hence the present investigation was directed towards determining the effect of benzene metabolites, namely, phenol-hydroquinone and catechol, on the motility, viability, and nuclear integrity of the human spermatozoa. From the results obtained it was clear that exposure to phenol-hydroquinone caused a significant decline in both, sperm motility and viability. Exposure to a phenol-hydroquinone (Phase I) microenvironment may therefore inhibit metabolically active enzymes, thus impeding ATP production, and in turn lowers sperm motility and viability. In addition, the present study also revealed that both metabolites of benzene caused significant denaturation of sperm nuclear DNA. Hence, exposure to phenol-hydroquinone in vitro could have resulted in generation of free radicals and altered membrane function, which is reflected by a decline in the motility, viability, and loss of sperm nuclear DNA integrity. In Phase II, the exposure of human sperm in vitro to varied concentrations of catechol caused only insignificant changes in sperm motility and viability as compared to those observed on exposure to phenol-hydroquinone. Hence, exposure to catechol appeared to have less toxic effects than those of phenol-hydroquinone.