The aim of this study was to describe the effects of nickel (NiCl 2) on murine testicular structure. Experimental animals were injected intraperitoneally with a single dose of 20 mg NiCl2 per kg of body mass (group A, n = 5) and 40 mg NiCl2 per kg b. m. (group B, n = 5). The group without injection (n = 5) was the control (C). Animals were killed 48 hours after administration of nickel. The body mass of animals, the mass of testes and the testes : body mass ratio were not significantly affected. In both experimental groups a significant (p < 0.001) decrease of germinal epithelium in comparison with control group was observed. The relative volume of the interstitium was increased but not significantly in both experimental groups. An increase in the relative volume of the lumen was registered in both experimental groups in comparison with the control group. The qualitative analysis detected a dilatation of blood vessels in the interstitium, undulation of the basal membrane and several empty spaces in the germinal epithelium. The diameter (n = 150) of the seminiferous tubule was markedly (p < 0.05) decreased in both experimental groups (A, B) compared to control group. The height of the germinal epithelium showed a significant decrease (p < 0.05 - 0.001) after nickel administration. Evaluation of the lumen diameter in the seminiferous tubule showed a significant increase in both experimental groups. The data of the perimeter of seminiferous tubules corresponded with those of the seminiferous tubule diameter. TUNEL assay detected a higher frequency of localized apoptosis in the interstitium of nickel-administered animals compared to control group. Our findings clearly suggest a negative effect of nickel on the structure as well as on the function of the seminferous epithelium at the site of spermatozoa production.
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