Effects of green, black and rooibos tea, coffee and buchu on testosterone production by mouse testicular cultures
Modulation of the male reproductive system occurs as a result of exposure to endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) in different life stages. The effects of EDCs on the male reproductive system include infertility, decreased sperm count, function and morphology, abnormal development of secondary sex characteristics, reproductive function and sexual behavior, as well as decreased libido. Phytochemicals are naturally occurring, biologically active chemical compounds in plants. They are divided into different groups. Isoflavonoids and lignans, are the two major groups of phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens of teas, coffee and buchu have many beneficial effects on body systems such as antimutagenic, antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral properties. They also elicit many adverse events, for example, heavy consumption of green and black tea may cause liver damage and added unwanted effects when combined with other herbal beverages. Chronic heavy consumption of coffee is positively correlated to acute myocardial infarction and can elevate serum cholesterol levels. Rooibos tea decreases steroidogenesis by steroid secreting cell lines.This study investigated the effects of these beverages on the male reproductive system, using a minced testes method for determination of cell viability and hormone (testosterone) production. The first objective of this study was to optimize protein supplement for in vitro testosterone production using human serum albumin (HSA) and foetal bovine serum (FBS). Testicular cultures were prepared and exposed overnight to different concentrations of both sera and then incubated for 4 hours with or without luteinizing hormone (LH). The results showed that addition of protein supplements (HSA or FBS) did not have a significant effect on testosterone production. The second objective of this study was to investigate the effects of green tea, black tea, rooibos tea, coffee and buchu on cell viability of testicular cultures. Cells were treated overnight with varying concentrations of the plant extracts followed by incubation with/without LH for 4 hours. The effects of the plant beverages on cellular protein production were determined by the Bradford assay. The results showed that treatment of cells with varying concentrations of the plant extracts (with/without LH-treatment) had no significant effect on total cellular protein. The third objective of this study was to investigate the effects of black, green and rooibos teas, coffee and buchu on testosterone production by testicular cultures. The results obtained from these experiments showed that rooibos tea and buchu did not affect testosterone production in the presence or absence of LH. The results also indicated that green tea, black tea and coffee inhibited testosterone production by mouse testis cultures in the presence of LH, but not in the absence of LH. Black tea was the most potent inhibitor of testosterone synthesis by mouse testis cultures (IC50= 48 μg/ml), followed by coffee (IC50= 64 μg/ml) and green tea (IC50= 173 μg/ml). Green tea, black tea and coffee inhibited LH-stimulated testosterone synthesis, suggesting that these beverages may impair testicular steroidogenesis in mice. Thus, in spite of their acclaimed beneficial effects, consumption of these beverages in high doses raises concerns for their inhibitory effects on male reproductive function. Further in vitro and in vivo studies are warranted to determine their exact mechanisms of action on the male reproductive system in general and testicular function in particular.