Tetracycline, Common Antibiotic in Meat Industry, Causes Loss of Sperm Viability That is Passed on to the Next Generation


In a new paper published by researchers at the University of Nevada, male pseudoscorpions treated with tetracycline suffered significantly reduced sperm viability and passed this on to their untreated sons. The researchers suggest humans could be affected in the same way.

“This is the first research to show a transgenerational effect of antibiotics,” David Zeh, the chair of the Department of Biology in the College of Science, said. “Tetracycline has a significant detrimental effect on male reproductive function and sperm viability of pseudoscorpions — reducing viability by up to 25 percent — and now we know that effect is passed on to the next generation. We didn’t see the effect in subsequent generations.”

The research was done by using three generations of psuedoscorpians (a small scorpion-like arachnid) that were either treated weekly with tetracycline or not at all. Controlling for genetic influences was done by using using 21 different broods and splitting each brood up evenly between the treated and untreated groups.

From the research, lead author Jeanne Zeh surmises that the antibiotic probably causes epigenetic changes that are passed down.

Tetracycline is widely used in the industrial meat industry as an additive in feed to increase production, and is used in antimicrobial therapy.

Source: University of Nevada
Image Credits: Medical Pill and Hanging Meat

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