The membranes of human spermatozoa contain an extremely high concentration of polyunsaturated fatty acids and are therefore susceptible to lipid peroxidation damage. The aim of this study was to retrospectively determine the association between the lipid peroxidation levels of washed spermatozoa, as indicated by thiobarbituric-acid-reactive substance concentration, and; (a) semen quality evaluated by basic routine, biochemical, cytological and quantitative ultramorphological analyses; (b) IVF fertilization rate. Semen samples from 45 male partners of couples who had been referred for IVF treatment due to a female infertility factor were evaluated for quality as well as for thiobarbituric-acid-reactive substance concentrations. The latter were found to have a negative correlation with total sperm count, semen volume, zinc/fructose ratio, and the integrity of sperm acrosome and axonema. It was suggested that lipid peroxidation has a deleterious effect on the ultramorphological status of the sperm cells and, thereby, on the male fertilization potential. The content of the seminal fluid, about 30% of which is produced by the prostate, may protect spermatozoa from this destructive process. A negative correlation was also found between thiobarbituric-acid-reactive substance concentrations and IVF fertilization rate. When the patients were subdivided into fertilizing (fertilization rate >0%) and nonfertilizing (fertilization rate=0%) subgroups (n=33 and n=12, respectively), the former exhibited significantly lower thiobarbituric-acid-reactive substance concentrations than the latter. A new IVF fertilization index based on the lipid peroxidation level was established. This index had a predictive power of 93% (94% sensitivity and 92% specificity). The clinical value of this index should be further verified.
- Human spermatozoa
- Lipid peroxidation in human sperm
- Male fertility
- Semen analysis
- Sperm ultramorphology