Histopathology of the male reproductive system induced by the fungicide benomyl


  • Rex A. Hess
  • M. Nakal


testis, epididymis, toxicology, fungicide, microtubules


Benomyl is an effective fungicide that has been in use for many years. This chemical and its primary metabolite, carbendazim, are microtubule poisons that are relatively nontoxic to all mammalian organs, except for the male reproductive system. Its primary effects, at moderate to low dosages, are on the testis, where it causes sloughing of germ cells in a stagedependent manner. Sloughing is caused by the effects of the chemical on microtubules and intermediate filaments of the Sertoli cell. These effects spread to dividing germ cells and also lead to abnormal development of the head of elongating spermatids. At higher dosages, it causes occlusion of the efferent ducts, blocking passage of sperm from the rete testis to epididymis. The mechanism of occlusion appears to be related to fluid reabsorption, sperm stasis, followed by leukocyte chemotaxis, sperm granulomas, fibrosis and often the formation of abnormal microcanals. The occlusion results in a rapid swelling of the testis and ultimately seminiferous tubular atrophy and infertility. In conclusion, studies that reveal long term testicular atrophy following chronic or subchronic exposure to a toxicant should be re-examined for histopathological lesions in the efferent ductules and head of the epididymis. Lesions in the male track that cause blockage may induce permanent testicular damage and a decrease in sperm production.




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