Background: Lead (Pb) remains a common contaminant in the environment in many parts of the world. Pb exposure adversely affects many human organs, including the gonads, via oxidant and inflammatory marker propagation in affected tissues. Moringa oleifera leaf extract (MOE) is a rich source of antioxidants, reported to have robust anti-inflammatory properties.
Aims: This investigation assessed whether MOE could mitigate testicular damage caused by Pb acetate treatment in rats.
Methods: Four experimental groups were used: control animals (saline only), MOE (MOE only), PbAc (Pb acetate injection only), and MOE+PbAc. All treatments were administered for two weeks, after which animals were sacrificed, and tissues and serum were examined. To confirm the potential antioxidant effect of MOE, the total polyphenolic (TP) and flavonoid (TF) concentrations were determined.
Results: The obtained results revealed that the TP concentration was 17.4 mg gallic acid equivalents per gram MOE dried weight and the TF concentration was 5.6 mg of quercetin equivalents per gram MOE dried weight. Moreover, MOE partially restored levels of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and testosterone and significantly attenuated oxidative stress biomarkers, malondialdehyde (MDA) and nitric oxide (NO), compared to levels observed in the PbAc-only group. MOE significantly increased the enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidant molecules superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase (CAT), glutathione peroxidase (GPx) and glutathione reductase (GR), and glutathione (GSH). Testicular levels of inflammatory cytokines tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNFα) and interleukin-1beta (IL-1β) were significantly decreased in MOE+PbAc compared to PbAc. MOE also significantly decreased pro-apoptotic Bax and caspase- 3 mRNA and protein levels and increased anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 mRNA and protein levels.
Conclusion: MOE extract was associated with significant antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti- apoptotic activity that ameliorated testicular damage induced by Pb acetate. MOE is proposed as a favorable adjuvant to existing treatments for Pb-induced toxicity.