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Toxoplasma gondii is a common protozoan parasite, which infects warm-blooded mammals, including mice and humans, throughout the world. The negative effects of T. gondii infection on the human reproductive system have been documented, especially in females. However, only few studies have examined the effects of T. gondii infection on the male reproductive system. Previous research shows that T. gondii can induce DNA methylation in some gene promoters, which are key regulators of spermatogenesis. Therefore, this study aimed to evaluate the effects of curcumin on the activity of DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs), as well as selected genes, involved in spermatogenesis in spermatogenic cells. In the spermatogenic cells exposed to T. gondii, there was a significant increase in DNMT1 and DNMT3A gene expression and a significant reduction in HSPA1A, MTHR, and DAZL gene expression, compared to the controls. The present results showed that curcumin could regulate changes in T. gondii-mediated gene expression. The effect of T. gondii on DNMT activity was also investigated in this study. A 40 % increase in DNMT activity was observed due to T. gondii infection. However, DNMT activity was restored by treatment with 20 μM curcumin for eight hours. The results revealed that T. gondii increases the NF-κB activity, compared to the control group. The increase in NF-κB activity, induced by T. gondii, was inhibited by curcumin. In conclusion, T. gondii, by increasing DNMT expression and activity, leads to an increase in NF-κB activity in cells. On the other hand, curcumin reduced DNA methylation, induced by T. gondii, owing to its NF-κB-inhibiting properties. Therefore, curcumin, as a hypomethylating agent, can be potentially used to alleviate the negative effects of T. gondii on the male reproductive system.
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