The present study aims at evaluating the effects of the organic extract of tyre debris (TDOE) from tyre wear on the kinetic and morphologic features of rabbit spermatozoa. Rabbit sperm were incubated for 4 h with 0, 5, 10, 50 and 75 ?g/mL of TDOE. Sperm motility was evaluated by computer-assisted semen analysis. Phosphatidilcholine (PS) externalization (apoptosis) and plasma membrane breakage (necrosis) were assessed using the annexinV/propidium iodide assay. The sperm ultrastructure was observed by scanning (SEM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). A relevant decrease in the motility rate, PS externalization, and in plasma membrane breakage of spermatozoa were observed after incubation with TDOE at concentrations higher than 50 ?g/mL. The most frequent ultrastructural anomalies detected in the analysed specimens were: plasma and/or acrosomal membrane breakage, swollen and disorganized mitochondria, and altered axonemal patterns. Taken together, these results suggest that the organic extract of tyre debris can be toxic to rabbit spermatozoa ? affecting their movement and structural integrity ? when present in seminal plasma at a concentrations higher than 50 ?g/mL. Although rabbit sperm has been proven to be a suitable model for testing the in vitro effects of many chemical compounds, including TDOE, the obtained results must be considered preliminary and cannot be extrapolated yet to the in vivo outcomes because of scanty data. The results encourage, however, further research in this field.
rabbit; semen quality; spermiotoxicity; tyre debris organic extract