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Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) is a plant with phytoestrogenic properties, which has been used as a major part of diets in husbandry. Since there are controversial reports related to the effects of alfalfa consumption on animal fertility, its effects on rat testicular tissue were assessed in the present study. Control (n=15) and alfalfa (n=15) groups were fed with ordinary rat chow and ordinary rat chow plus alfalfa, respectively. Testicles were removed after 30, 45, and 60 days of consumption, and tissue sections were prepared to assess histomorphometric changes related to alfalfa consumption.
Based on the results, there was no significant difference in length, width, and volume of testes of treated rats to control in all groups. But the number of testicular spermatogonia cells, primary spermatocyte cells, primary spermatid cells, testicular spermatozoid cells and Leydig cells significantly or insignificantly increased in rats that received alfalfa for 30 days but all of these parameters insignificantly decreased in rats that received alfalfa for 60 days. The cause of these changes may be due to estrogenic or anti-estrogenic, antioxidant and endocrine effects of alfalfa.
Conclusion: Consumption of alfalfa for short time had only a transient positive effects on testicular tissues but use of alfalfa for 60 days had little destructive effects on testicular tissue in rats. So longer durations of time could be suggested for further research on the effects of alfalfa on rat’s reproduction index.
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