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ISSN 2052-1472 (online)

Reproduction Abstracts (2014) 1 P011 | DOI: 10.1530/repabs.1.P011

Delayed puberty onset and reduced sperm quality in male rats prenatally exposed to betamethasone

Wilma De Grava Kempinas, Cibele dos Santos Borges, Ana Flávia Mota Gonçalves Dias, Raquel Frenedoso Silva, Aline Lima Barros, Patrícia Villela Silva, Marina Trevizan Guerra, Marciana Sanabria & Gabriela Missassi


Institute of Biosciences, UNESP – Univ Estadual Paulista, Botucatu, Brazil.


Introduction: Betamethasone is a drug of choice for antenatal treatment. The aim of the present work was to evaluate the age of puberty onset and sperm quality in male rats whose mothers received betamethasone during gestation.

Material and methods: Pregnant Wistar rats were allocated into control group and treated with 0.1 mg/kg betamethasone on gestational days 12, 13, 18, and 19. Maternal weight gain and the following parameters of male offspring (n=10/group, two males/litter) were evaluated: body weight and anogenital distance on postnatal day (PND) 1, body weight on PND21 (weaning) and age of preputial separation (evaluated from PND30 onwards). One male from each litter was killed on PDN45 and reproductive organ weights and testosterone levels were obtained. The other male (PDN90) was used to perform fertility tests. Sperm retrieved from the epididymal cauda was also utilized to evaluate sperm motility and morphology. Student’s t-test and Mann–Whitney U test were used to statistically compare the results.

Results and discussion: The following results, observed in the treated group, significantly differ from the control group (P<0.05): maternal weight gain and the weight of male litters on PND1 were reduced; preputial separation was delayed; on PDN45 testosterone levels were decreased; testis weight increased and seminal gland weight decreased. At adulthood these alterations remained and additionally the ventral prostate weight decreased in the treated group; the incidence of abnormal sperm increased; sperm motility and fertility potential were decreased. Thus, our findings show that intrauterine betamethasone exposure delayed puberty installation and reduced sperm quality in male rats.

Funding FAPESP and CAPES.