Sperm DNA damage and seminal antioxidant activity in subfertile men

Fernando Lopes, Patrícia Pinto‐Pinho, Isabel Gaivão, Ana Martins‐Bessa, Zélia Gomes, Osvaldo Moutinho, Maria Manuel Oliveira, Francisco Peixoto, Rosário Pinto‐Leite

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Supraphysiological ROS levels can lead to apoptosis, lipid peroxidation, and DNA and protein damage. This pilot study aimed to investigate the sperm oxidative damage in subfertile men, to describe the relationship between the antioxidant system and ROS. Sixty‐four semen samples were categorised according to the evaluated routine parameters (WHO, WHO laboratory manual for the examination and processing of human semen, 2010). Results were cross‐referenced with the DNA damage [Comet (n = 53) and TUNEL (n = 49) assays], antioxidant enzyme activity [SOD (n = 51), CAT (n = 48) and GST (n = 48)], and content of total thiols (n = 36), lipid hydroperoxides (n = 35) and MDA (n = 31). Compared to pathospermic samples, normozoospermic presented 40%–45% fewer spermatozoa with fragmented DNA, 19% fewer hydroperoxides, and slightly higher total thiols and MDA levels. Asthenozoospermic/asthenoteratozoospermic samples had the lowest GST activity. SOD and CAT showed a similar trend. Our results evidenced significant positive correlations between DNA damage and immotile spermatozoa; SOD and CAT, GST and total thiols; CAT and GST; total thiols and sperm concentration; and MDA levels and head/midpiece abnormalities and hydroperoxides. This work contributes to the existing body of knowledge by showing that the oxidative status correlates with the classic sperm analysis parameters. Oxidative stress and DNA damage evaluation might be a valuable diagnostic and prognostic tool in cases of idiopathic male subfertility.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere14027
Number of pages14
Early online date8 Mar 2021
Publication statusEarly online - 8 Mar 2021


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