Khat-induced reproductive dysfunction in male rabbits
The psychostimulating herbal drug khat (Catha edulis Forsk) is habitually used by inhabitants around the horn of Africa, including East Africa and Arabian Peninsula, but is also imported in other countries. Khat has been shown to cause reproductive dysfunction in humans and experimental animals. However, the mechanism by which it influences reproductive parameters is not known. This study investigated the mechanism of action of khat on reproductive function in male rabbits. Twenty five male New Zealand White rabbits were divided into 5 groups of 5 animals each and administered with 0, 1.5, 4.5, 13.5 and 40.5 g/kg body weight of khat extract, respectively, via intra-gastric tube. Blood samples were collected at 15 minutes interval for up to 3 hr after khat administration and plasma assayed for levels of luteinising hormone (LH), testosterone and cortisol using radioimmunoassay technique. For histopathological examination, animals except for 4.5 g/kg body weight of khat extract were used. Two animals from each group were hemicastrated 7 days after khat extract administration to study acute effects while the rest of the animals were sacrificed after 58 days of khat administration and pituitary, testes and epididymis harvested to study chronic effects. The hormonal, haematological as well as data on clinical observation for difference in means among groups and over experimental time period was analysed by two- way ANOVA followed by Tukey’s multiple comparison post hoc test using SPSS statistical package.