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Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Volume 2017, Article ID 3405089, 11 pages
Research Article

Differential Susceptibility of Germ and Leydig Cells to Cadmium-Mediated Toxicity: Impact on Testis Structure, Adiponectin Levels, and Steroidogenesis

1Department of General Biology, Federal University of Viçosa, 36570-000 Viçosa, MG, Brazil
2Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Department of Structural Biology, Federal University of Alfenas, 37130-001 Alfenas, MG, Brazil
3School of Medicine, Federal University of Jequitinhonha and Mucuri Valleys, 39100-000 Diamantina, MG, Brazil
4Department of Basic and Health Sciences, Federal University of Jequitinhonha and Mucuri Valleys, 39100-000 Diamantina, MG, Brazil

Correspondence should be addressed to Sérgio L. P. Matta; rb.vfu@attams

Received 4 August 2017; Accepted 25 October 2017; Published 20 December 2017

Academic Editor: Joseph Adeyemi

Copyright © 2017 Marli C. Cupertino 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.


This study investigated the relationship between germ and Leydig cell death, testosterone, and adiponectin levels in cadmium-mediated acute toxicity. Cadmium chloride was administered in a single dose to five groups of rats: G1 (0.9% NaCl) and G2 to G5 (0.67, 0.74, 0.86, and 1.1 mg Cd/kg). After 7 days, the animals were euthanized, and the testosterone and testes were analyzed. Dose-dependent Cd accumulation in the testes was identified. At 0.86 and 1.1 mg/kg, animals exhibited marked inflammatory infiltrate and disorganization of the seminiferous epithelium. While Leydig cells were morphologically resistant to Cd toxicity, massive germ cell death and DNA oxidation and fragmentation were observed. Although numerical density of Leydig cells was unchanged, testosterone levels were significantly impaired in animals exposed to 0.86 and 1.1 mg Cd/kg, occurring in parallel with the reduction in total adiponectins and the increase in high-molecular weight adiponectin levels. Our findings indicated that Leydig and germ cells exhibit differential microstructural resistance to Cd toxicity. While germ cells are a primary target of Cd-induced toxicity, Leydig cells remain resistant to death even when exposed to high doses of Cd. Despite morphological resistance, steroidogenesis was drastically impaired by Cd exposure, an event potentially related to the imbalance in adiponectin production.