A silent threat to male reproductive health: New study raises concerns on use of common herbicide clethodim

The findings, recently published in the peer reviewed scientific journal Chemosphere, highlights the risks associated with clethodim-based herbicide exposure on male reproductive function and early embryonic development

Updated - August 25, 2023 09:40 am IST

Published - August 24, 2023 08:21 pm IST - MANGALURU

Satish Kumar Adiga, Head, Centre of Excellence in Clinical Embryology at Kasturba Medical College highlighted the worrisome connection between environmental pollutants and compromised sperm function – a pressing concern in recent years.

Satish Kumar Adiga, Head, Centre of Excellence in Clinical Embryology at Kasturba Medical College highlighted the worrisome connection between environmental pollutants and compromised sperm function – a pressing concern in recent years. | Photo Credit: File photo

In a collaborative effort, researchers from Kasturba Medical College (KMC), Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE), Manipal, and Yenepoya Research Center, Mangaluru, have unveiled alarming insights into the potential impact of the widely used herbicide clethodim on male reproductive health.

The findings, recently published in the peer reviewed scientific journal Chemosphere, highlights the risks associated with clethodim-based herbicide exposure on male reproductive function and early embryonic development. The study utilised laboratory mouse model to explore the consequences of clethodim exposure. The results of this study have raised concerns on male reproductive health, revealing a spectrum of effects including a reduction in testicular weight, a decrease in germ cell population, lower levels of serum testosterone, abnormalities in sperm, and compromised pre-implantation embryo development, a release from MAHE said on Thursday, August 24.

The research underscores the necessity for heightened awareness and rigorous examination of the implications of clethodim-based herbicides on male reproductive health. The findings warrant reevaluating the use of such herbicides to ensure the health and safety of both humanity and environment, the release said.

It quoted Guruprasad Kalthur, principal investigator and an expert in fertility and reproductive science at KMC, Manipal as having said, “Although clethodim has been an approved herbicide for some time, our study unveils previously uncharted repercussions on male reproductive health and the early stages of embryonic development. These findings necessitate further investigation and thoughtful reconsideration of the use of such herbicides to ensure the well being of both humans and our environment.”

Supporting this standpoint, Keshava Prasad, Professor and Deputy Director, Centre for Systems Biology and Molecular Medicine at Yenepoya Research Center, Mangaluru emphasised the necessity of molecular-level screenings to comprehend the potential effects of herbicides on human and environmental health, the release said.

Satish Kumar Adiga, Head, Centre of Excellence in Clinical Embryology at KMC highlighted the worrisome connection between environmental pollutants and compromised sperm function – a pressing concern in recent years. Herbicides play an essential role in bolstering human prosperity and are integral to the modern way of life. Given the widespread use of mice as vital mammalian models in health research, the outcomes of this study hold significant implications for stakeholders across various fields, he said.

The study’s co-author, Nagarajan (Raj) Kannan, a distinguished expert in stem cells and cancer from Mayo Clinic, USA, underlined the urgency of comprehensive testing for this post-emergent herbicide, revisiting its application when possible, and advocating for upgraded standards in the formulation of new agents for similar uses, the release said.

Padmaraj Hegde, Dean of KMC, underscored the pivotal role of such studies in enhancing the reproductive health of forthcoming generations.

Sharath Rao, Pro Vice Chancellor of Health Sciences at MAHE, emphasised that this study paves the way for future research aiming to understand the broader repercussions of clethodim exposure across various species, including humans.

Venkatesh, Vice Chancellor of MAHE, highlighted the significance of studies like this in steering well-informed decisions regarding herbicide use in agriculture, landscaping, and other applications, with a strong focus on preserving human health and the environment.

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