The effect of sugar cane molasses on the immune and male reproductive systems using in vitro and in vivo methods

Document Type: Original Article


Department of Medical Bioscience, University of the Western Cape, Private Bag X17, Bellville 7535, Republic of South Africa


Objective(s): Sugar cane molasses is a commonly used ingredient in several food products. Contrasting reports suggest that molasses may have potential adverse or beneficial effects on human health. However, little evidence exists that examines the effects of molasses on the different physiological systems. This study investigated the effects of sugar cane molasses on various physiological systems using in vivo and in vitro methods.
Materials and Methods: Molasses was administered orally to BALB/c, male mice and animals were randomly assigned into either a treatment or control group. General physiological changes, body weight and molasses intake of animals were monitored. At the end of the exposure period, collected blood samples were evaluated for potential toxicity using plasma biomarkers and liver enzyme activity. Immunised treated and untreated mice were evaluated for antibody titre to determine the effect of molasses on the immune response. To investigate the impact of molasses on testicular steroidogenesis, testes from both treated and control groups were harvested, cultured and assayed for testosterone synthesis. 
Results: Findings suggest that fluid intake by molasses-treated animals was significantly increased and these animals showed symptoms of loose faeces. Molasses had no significant effect on body weight, serum biomarkers or liver enzyme activity (P>0.05).  Immunoglobulin-gamma anti-antigen levels were significantly suppressed in molasses-treated groups (P=0.004). Animals subjected to molasses exposure also exhibited elevated levels of testosterone synthesis (P=0.001).
Conclusion: Findings suggests that molasses adversely affects the humoral immune response. The results also promote the use of molasses as a supplement to increase testosterone levels.


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