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Maintenance of male germline stem cells (GSCs) homeostasis is crucial for successful reproductive life of adults. New insights gained on dysfunction in stem cell maintenance could be the basis of stem cell dependent ailment during adulthood. Cadmium (Cd), a reported male reproductive toxicant, has been explored inadequately for its impact on male GSCs maintenance. The present study, therefore, has been aimed to evaluate the effect of Cd on the maintenance of GSCs using Drosophila testis as an in vivo model. Following developmental exposure of environmentally relevant concentrations of Cd (5.0, 10.0 and 20.0μg/ml) to Drosophila, we showed that a significantly increased level of reactive oxygen species (ROS) at 20.0 μg/ml of Cd resulted in alteration of GSCs number accompanied by inappropriate differentiation leading to reduced sperm number and eventually poor reproductive performance in exposed organism. Rescuing effect was evident by overexpressing sod in early germ cells stage. The study suggests that alteration in GSC homeostasis due to redox imbalance plays a pivotal role in Cd induced failure in male fertility. The study further advocates for the use of Drosophila as an alternative animal model for in vivo evaluation of male germline stem cells toxicity with minimal ethical concern.
Keywords: Germline stem cells; Spermatogenesis; Male fertility; Cadmium; Drosophila