Sodium fluoride (NaF) at a dose of 10 mg/kg body weight was administered orally to male rats (Rettus norvegicus) daily for 30 and 50 days to evaluate the effect of the physiology of some sex accessory glands and sperm functions. The effects of withdrawal upon cessation of NaF ingestion, and of administering ascorbic acid (AA) and/or calcium (Ca++) along with NaF, were also investigated. The results revealed that the NaF treatment caused a significant elevation in serum fluoride levels with a simultaneous rise in Ca++ levels. This could be attributed to the formation of a calcium fluoride complex leading to calcium accumulation. The treatment resulted in structural and metabolic alterations in sperm, leading to low sperm motility, a low sperm mitochondrial activity index (SMAI), reduced viability (live:dead ratio), and changes in sperm membrane phospholipids (particularly phosphatidylinositol, phosphatidylserine and phosphatidylethanolamine, which would affect hormone receptor interaction and their functions). A significant reduction in electrolyte levels of sperm also occurred which would also affect their viability. The protein levels in cauda epididymal sperm suspension, vas deferens, seminal vesicle and prostate were significantly decreased after NaF administration, which may be due to altered protein metabolism by interference of fluoride ions. The changes in epididymal protein profile, with absence of some proteins and induction of some new ones, were probably a result of the “stress proteins” in NaF-treated rats affecting the structural and functional integrity of sperm. Glycogen accumulation in vas deferens and a decrease in fructose in seminal vesicles and vas deferens indicated disturbances in carbohydrate metabolism in these organs. However, withdrawl of treatment resulted in partial recovery. A significant recovery from NaF-induced toxic effects occurred following administation of ascorbic acid and/or calcium, while combined treatment (AA + Ca++) for 70 days manifested a synergistic effect. The transient fluoride-induced effects were reversible.
The results, corroborated by earlier data from our laboratory, show that fluoride has a definite effect on male reproduction and fertility. Ascorbic acid and calcium are proposed as therapeutic agents in endemic populations for ameiloration of effects of fluoride.