Cadmium is a well-known human carcinogen and a potent nephrotoxin. Lipid peroxidation is involved in cadmium-related toxicity. Vitamin E and β-carotene are effective antioxidants and free radical scavengers. Therefore, the present study was carried out to investigate the potential protective effects of vitamin E and β-carotene alone or in combination against cadmium (Cd) toxicity. Cadmium chloride (CdCl2, 5 mg/kg BW, 1/15 LD50), vitamin E (100 mg/kg BW), β-carotene (10 mg/kg BW), and vitamin E with β-carotene (100 + 10 mg/kg BW, respectively) were orally administered by gavage alone or in combination. The tested doses were given to rats every other day (15 times). Results obtained showed that CdCl2 significantly (P<0.05) induced free radicals in plasma, liver and brain.
The activities of glutathione S-transferase (GST) (plasma and liver), alkaline phosphatase (AlP) (plasma and liver), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT) (liver) and acetylcholinesterase (AChE) (plasma and brain) were significantly (P<0.05) decreased due to CdCl2 administration, whereas, the activities of AST and ALT were increased in plasma. Treatment with CdCl2 caused a significant (P<0.05) increase in glucose, urea, creatinine and bilirubin in plasma. On the other hand, results showed that CdCl2 significantly (P<0.05) decreased plasma total protein (TP), albumin (A), blood hemoglobin (Hb), total erythrocytic count (TEC) and packed cell volume (PCV), while total leukocyte count (TLC) increased. Treatment with CdCl2 caused a significant (P<0.05) decrease in sperm concentration, motility (%), weight of testes and epididymis, and increase in dead and abnormal sperm. Results demonstrated the beneficial influences of vitamin E, β-carotene alone and/or in combination in reducing the harmful effects of CdCl2.