National Center for International Research on Animal Gut Nutrition, College of Animal Science and Technology, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing 210095, China; National Experimental Teaching Demonstration Center of Animal Science, College of Animal Science and Technology, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing 210095, China. Electronic address: [Email]
Zinc (Zn) can accumulate in the body of wild animal and human through bio-magnification effects in the food chain to pose chronic toxicity. Male spermatogenesis was sensitive to excessive Zn and elevated temperature. This study aimed to examine whether or not excessive Zn intake caused testicular toxicity and estimate the interaction between Zn and high temperature (HT) in testes of Bama miniature pigs. Six-month-old pigs were pre-fed with or without additional Zn at 1500 mg/kg diet for 30 d and afterward subjected to HT at 40 °C for 5 h daily for 8 consecutive days. Blood samples were collected on d 31 and d 38 and testes were obtained on d 38 immediately after HT exposure. Our data showed both scrotal surface temperature (T) and body surface T increased after 5-h HT exposure (p < 0.05). Pigs fed with additional Zn showed germ cell loss, the decreased testes weight (p < 0.01) and the elevated testicular H2O2 level (p < 0.05) as exposed to HT. In additional Zn groups, the autophagosomes or autolysosomes were more frequently observed in the Leydig cells and abnormal acrosomes increased in spermatids. Additional Zn diet increased p62 protein level (p < 0.05), decreased testicular Zn concentration (p < 0.01) and down-regulated the relative mRNA expression of heme oxygenase 1 (p < 0.05). There were significant interactions between T and Zn on testes weight, the relative weight of testes, testosterone concentration on d 31, and the relative mRNA expression of Zn transporters 1 and 2. In conclusion, chronic excessive Zn diet impacted testicular Zn concentration and made the testes more vulnerable to heat, leading to testicular toxicity in Bama miniature pigs.