ISSN : 2146-3123
E-ISSN : 2146-3131

Role of Trace Elements for Oxidative Status and Quality of Human Sperm
Galina Nenkova 1, Lubomir Petrov 2, Albena Alexandrova 2
1Laboratory of Free Radical Processes, Institute of Neurobiology, Bulgarian Academy of Science, Sofia, Bulgaria
2Department of Physiology and Biochemistry, National Sports Academy, Sofia, Bulgaria
DOI : 10.4274/balkanmedj.2016.0147
Pages : 343-348

Background: Oxidative stress affects sperm quality negatively. To maintain the pro/antioxidant balance, some metal ions (e.g. copper, zink, iron, selenium), which are co-factors of the antioxidant enzymes, are essential. However, iron and copper could act as prooxidants inducing oxidative damage of spermatozoa.
Aims: To reveal a possible correlation between the concentrations of some metal ions (iron, copper, zinc, and selenium) in human seminal plasma, oxidative stress, assessed by malondialdehyde and total glutathione levels, and semen quality, assessed by the parameters count, motility, and morphology.
Study Design: Descriptive study.
Methods: The semen analysis for volume, count, and motility was performed according to World Health Organization (2010) guidelines, using computer-assisted semen analysis. For the determination of spermatozoa morphology, a SpermBlue staining method was applied. Depending on their parameters, the sperm samples were categorized into normozoospermic, teratozoospermic, asthenoteratozoospermic, and oligoteratozoospermic. The seminal plasma content of iron, copper, zinc, and selenium was estimated by atomic absorption spectroscopy. The malondialdehyde and total glutathione levels were quantified spectrophotometrically.
Results: In the groups with poor sperm quality, the levels of Fe were higher, whereas those of Zn and Se were significantly lower than in the normozoospermic group. In all groups with poor sperm quality, increased levels of malondialdehyde and decreased glutathione levels were detected as evidence of oxidative stress occurrence. All these differences are most pronounced in the asthenoteratozoospermic group where values differ nearly twice as much compared to the normozoospermic group. The Fe concentration correlated positively with the malondialdehyde (r=0.666, p=0.018), whereas it showed a negative correlation with the level of total glutathione (r=-0.689, p=0.013). The total glutathione level correlated positively with the sperm motility (r=0.589, p=0.044).
Conclusion: The elevated levels of Fe and the reduced Se levels are associated with sperm damage. The changes in the concentrations of the trace elements in human seminal plasma may be related to sperm quality since they are involved in the maintenance of the pro-/antioxidative balance in ejaculate.

Keywords : Metal ions, oxidative status, sperm

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