Oxidative stress is now recognized as a common pathology that affects up to half of all infertile men. One of the principal mechanisms by which oxidative stress produces infertility is by damage to sperm DNA, either through direct oxidation of the DNA by reactive oxygen species (ROS) or by the initiation of apoptosis. The objective of this study was to determine if an oral antioxidant/mineral supplement could improve sperm DNA integrity in men with known oxidative stress. A total of 50 infertile men identified as exhibiting oxidative stress were administered oral antioxidant therapy for a period of 3 months. All participants were assessed at entry and exit for sperm DNA integrity with terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUDP nick-end labelling, apoptosis with annexin V, protamination with chromomycin A3 and ROS production with nitro blue tetrazolium assay. Sperm concentration, motility and morphology, together with assessment of serum male reproductive hormones (LH, FSH, testosterone, anti-Müllerian hormone), were also monitored. The principal finding that emerged from this study was that antioxidant therapy resulted in significant improvements in sperm DNA integrity (P = 0.002) and protamine packaging (P < 0.001), accompanied by a reduction in seminal ROS production (P = 0.027) and apoptosis (P = 0.004). No significant changes in routine sperm parameters (concentration, motility, morphology) or male reproductive hormones were observed.
- Reactive oxygen species
- Sperm DNA