The Biological Effects of Imatinib on Male Fertility of Wistar Rats

Document Type : Original Article


1 Biology Department, Faculty of Sciences, Islamic Azad University, Science and Research Campus, Tehran, Iran

2 Islamic Azad University, Science and Research Campus, Tehran, Iran

3 Cell and Developmental Biology, Biology Department, Tarbiat Moallem University, Tehran, Iran


Imatinib is used in chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) and a number of other malignancies. The major aim of this study was to investigate the effects of Imatinib on male fertility in Wistar rats.

Materials and methods
Three groups of rats were gavaged with 6, 9, and 12 mg/kg Imatinib dissolved in dH2O for 30 consecutive days. On days 7, 14 and 30, blood samples were collected and LH, FSH, and testosterone levels were measured by the ELISA method. The numbers of sperm located in the epididymis were counted by staining with aqueous Eosin Y. Other sections of the testes were stained with H & E, investigated histologically, and the results were statistically analyzed.

On day 7 of the experiment, testosterone concentrations in the experimental groups were decreased (p ≤ 0.01), LH and FSH increased significantly, and the number of sperm in both the epididymis and sertoli cells decreased (p ≤ 0.01). There was an increase in tunica albuginea thickness (p ≤ 0.05) but the diameter of the seminiferous tubules showed a significant decrease (p ≤ 0.01). There was also a decrease in the number of Leydig cells, spermatogonia, stem cells, primary spermatocyte and spermatid. In the second and third samples (14 and 30 days after treatment), the testosterone levels, numbers of spermatogenic cells, Sertoli and Leydig cells showed an increase when compared to the first sample.

These findings suggest that a dose dependent administration of Imatinib has a profound effect on spermatogenesis.