Male obesity has been linked with a reduction in sperm concentration and motility, an increase in sperm DNA damage and changes in reproductive hormones. Recent large observational studies have linked male obesity with a reduced chance of becoming a father. One of the potential underlying pathological mechanisms behind diminished reproductive performance in obese men is sperm oxidative stress. The primary aim of this study was to determine if sperm oxidative stress was more common in obese/overweight men. A total of 81 men had their body mass index (BMI) correlated with seminal reactive oxygen species (ROS) production (Nitro Blue Tetrazolium assay), sperm DNA damage (TUNEL), markers of semen inflammation (CD45, seminal plasma PMN elastase and neopterin concentration) and routine sperm parameters, together with reproductive hormones. The principal finding from this study was that oxidative stress did increase with an increase in BMI, primarily due to an increase in seminal macrophage activation. However, the magnitude of this increase was small and only of minor clinical significance as there was no associated decline in sperm DNA integrity or sperm motility with increasing ROS production. Increased BMI was also found to be significantly linked with a fall in sperm concentration and serum testosterone, and an increase in serum oestradiol.
- Oxidative stress