This study was aimed at determining the effects of the ethanolic extract of the whole fruit of Lagenaria breviflora Robert on male fertility by evaluating some andrological parameters of the Wistar rat such as morphology of spermatozoa, sperm count, motility, liveability and volume of the semen. Histopathology of the testis was carried out. 20 adult male Wistar rats were randomly divided into 5 groups. The rats in group A (Control) were administered with 0.9% physiological saline, while rats in groups B, C, D, and E were administered with the extract of 1000, 2000, 4000 and 8000 mg per Kg body weight, respectively, once daily for 14 days. The extract caused morphological alterations of sperm cells in this study, predominantly of secondary abnormality. These include bent mid-piece, curved mid-piece, bent tail, curved tail, normal tail without head, normal head without tail, looped tail, and coiled tail, which are indications of interference with maturation stage of spermatogenesis in the seminiferous tubules. The deleterious effect of the extract on the seminiferous tubules is corroborated by histopathology, which revealed degeneration of epithelium of the seminiferous tubules. The degree of sperm cell motility was significantly lowered in animals administered with the extract compared to animals in the control group. However, the lifeability of the spermatozoa was not affected by the extract but it altered the structure of sperm cells produced. Consequently, the sperm count was lowered (P<0.05) in the animals administered with the fruit extract in comparison with animals in the control group, as a result of decline in the production of normal, viable sperm cells in the test animals. There was no significant (P>0.05) difference in the mean values of semen volume of rats in the control and test groups. It was concluded that extract of L. breviflora exerts toxic effect on the seminiferous tubular epithelium with concomitant reduction in the reproductive potential of the male rats. Herbal preparation of L. breviflora Robert should therefore be used cautiously in both man and animal. The potential of the plant as an anti-fertility drug in man can be carefully explored.
Key words: Lagenaria breviflora, testis, morphology, spermatozoa, fertility, rat.
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