British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Nutritional Toxicology

Protective effect of ascorbic acid against ethanol-induced reproductive toxicity in male guinea pigs

R. Harikrishnana1, P. A. Abhilasha1, S. Syam Dasa1, P. Prathibhaa1, S. Rejithaa1, Febi Johna1, S. Kavithaa1 and M. Indiraa1 c1

a1 Department of Biochemistry, University of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram 695 581, Kerala, India


The present study was undertaken to elucidate the effect of ascorbic acid on alcohol-induced reproductive toxicity and also to compare it with that of abstention. A total of thirty-six male guinea pigs were divided into two groups and were maintained for 90 d as control and ethanol-treated groups (4 g/kg body weight (b.wt.)). After 90 d, ethanol administration was stopped and animals in the control group were divided into two groups and then maintained for 30 d as the control and control+ascorbic acid groups and those in the ethanol-treated group as ethanol abstention and ethanol+ascorbic acid (25 mg/100 g b. wt.) groups. Animals treated with ethanol showed a significant decline in sperm quality (P< 0·001), decreased activity of steroidogenic enzymes (P< 0·05) and reduced serum testosterone (P< 0·05), luteinising hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone levels, decrease in the activity of testicular succinate dehydrogenase, adenosine triphosphatase, sorbitol dehydrogenase and reduction in fructose content (P< 0·05). It also caused an increase in testicular malondialdehyde levels (P< 0·05) and decrease in the levels of glutathione content (P< 0·001) of testes. Ascorbic acid levels in testes and plasma were also reduced (P< 0·001) in ethanol-fed animals. Ascorbic acid supplementation altered all these parameters and produced a better and faster recovery from alcohol-induced reproductive toxicity than abstention. The mechanism of action of ascorbic acid may be by reducing the oxidative stress and improving antioxidant status, which eventually changed the microenvironment of testes and enhanced the energy needed for motility of sperms, improved the sperm morphology and elevated the testosterone and gonadotropin levels.

(Received June 11 2012)

(Revised November 26 2012)

(Accepted November 26 2012)

(Online publication January 21 2013)

Key Words:

  • Alcoholism;
  • Reproductive toxicity;
  • Ascorbic acid;
  • Abstention


c1 Corresponding author: M. Indira, fax +91 471 2308078, email


  Abbreviations: 3β-HSD, 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase; 17β-HSD, 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase; ATPase, adenosine triphosphatase; b.wt., body weight; C, control; C+AA, control+ascorbic acid; E, ethanol-treated group; EAG, ethanol abstention group; E+AA, ascorbic acid supplemented group; FSH, follicle-stimulating hormone; GGT, γ-glutamyl transpeptidase; GSH, glutathione; LH, luteinising hormone; MDA, malondialdehyde; SDH, succinate dehydrogenase; SORD, sorbitol dehydrogenase