Although several studies on toxic effect of aspartame metabolite have been studied, controversial reports over the use of aspartame owing to the fact that it releases methanol as one of its metabolite during metabolism exist. This present study is proposed to investigate whether aspartame (40 mg kg-1 b.wt) administration for 90 days could induce oxidative stress and alter antioxidant status of epididymal sperm in Wistar strain male albino rats. To mimic the human methanol metabolism, methotrexate (MTX)-treated rats were included to study the effects of aspartame. Oral intubations of FDA approved 40 mg kg-1 b.wt aspartame were given daily for 90 days to Wistar strain male albino rats and studied along with controls and MTX-treated controls. Sperm count, viability, morphology, morphometry and motility were assessed. A significant decrease in sperm function of aspartame treated animals was observed when compared with the control and MTX control. The free radical generation were observed in epididymal sperm by assessing the scavenging enzymes, enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidants. Result suggest that there was a significant increase glutathione-s-transferase (GST), with a significant decrease in reduced glutathione (GSH), superoxide dismutase activity (SOD), glutathione peroxidase levels (GPx), catalase activity (CAT) and glutathione reductase concentration. The increase in free radicals generation could have ultimately caused the lipid peroxidation mediated damages on the testis. Aspartame treated animals also revealed the reduced space in seminiferous tubules, which resulted in reduced Leydig cells when compared with control in histopathology. These findings demonstrate that aspartame metabolites could be a contributing factor for development of oxidative stress in the epididymal sperm.
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