A team of researchers from the Medical College at Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal, and the Yenepoya Research Centre in Mangalore, have brought to light concerning revelations about the potential ramifications of clethodim, a widely utilised herbicide, on the health of male reproductive systems. Their recent publication in the prestigious journal ‘Chemosphere’ has underscored the hazards linked with exposure to clethodim-based herbicides, particularly concerning male reproductive functionality and the initial stages of embryo development. By employing a controlled laboratory mouse model, the study delved into the aftermath of clethodim exposure The outcomes of this investigation have sparked noteworthy apprehensions regarding male reproductive health, exposing a range of effects that encompass a decrease in testicular mass, a decline in the germ cell populace, diminished serum testosterone levels, irregularities in sperm structure, compromised early embryo development.
Stressing the importance of their discoveries, the principal investigator and fertility and reproductive science expert at Kasturba Medical College, Manipal, Dr Guruprasad Kalthur 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 wellbeing of both humans and our environment.”
Echoing this viewpoint, Professor and Deputy Director at the Centre for Systems Biology and Molecular Medicine in Yenepoya Research Centre, Mangalore, Dr Keshava Prasad emphasised the essential nature of screenings at the molecular level to fully grasp the potential impacts of herbicides on humans and environmental health. Dr Satish Kumar Adiga, Head of the Centre of Excellence in Clinical Embryology at Kasturba Medical College further illuminated the troubling correlation between environmental pollutants and compromised sperm functionality – a prevailing concern in recent times.
Herbicides play a crucial role in promoting human prosperity and are fundamental to our contemporary lifestyle. Dr Nagarajan (Raj) Kannan, a renowned authority in stem cells and cancer research at Mayo Clinic, USA, who is a co-author of the study, emphasised the immediate need for comprehensive testing of this post-emergent herbicide. He called for a reevaluation of its application wherever feasible and advocated for elevated standards in developing new agents intended for similar purposes.
Dr Padmaraj Hegde, Dean of Kasturba Medical College, praised the research team and highlighted the essential role of such studies in advancing the reproductive health of future generations. Dr Sharath Rao, Pro Vice-Chancellor of Health Sciences at Manipal Academy of Higher Education, stressed that this study sets the stage for forthcoming research into understanding the broader effects of clethodim exposure across various species including humans. Lt. Col. Dr Venkatesh, Vice Chancellor of Manipal Academy of Higher Education, emphasised how studies like this hold immense importance in guiding well-informed decisions regarding herbicide usage in agriculture, landscaping, and other applications. The primary focus remains on safeguarding human health and the environment.
The research emerged through a collaborative initiative involving experts from esteemed institutions. This included Reyon Dcunha, Sandhya Kumari, Keerthana Sandesh Suvarna, Ananda Hanumappa, Sneha Guruprasad Kalthur, and Satish Kumar Adiga from KMC Manipal, as well as Sadhana Mutalik, Srinivas Mutalik from MCOPS Manipal, Rajanikant GK from NITC Calicut, Mohd Altaf Najar, Anjana Aravind, Shamaprasad Varija Raghu from Yenepoya Research Center, Mangalore, and Sazada Siddiqui, Sulaiman Alrumman, Saad Alamri from King Khalid University, Abha, KSA. Nagarajan Kannan from Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA, made significant contributions to this collaborative endeavour.
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