Mystery of idiopathic male infertility: is oxidative stress an actual risk?

Sperm ROS formation and DNA damage as well as seminal plasma oxidative stress parameters were investigated in idiopathic infertile men. Intensive oxidative stress may have caused sperm dysfunction.


Gülşen Aktan, Ph.D., Semra Doğru-Abbasoğlu, M.D., Canan Küçükgergin, Ph.D., Ateş Kadıoğlu, M.D., Gül Özdemirler-Erata, Ph.D., Necla Koçak-Toker, Ph.D.

Volume 99, Issue 5, Pages 1211-1215, April 2013



To study the role of oxidative stress in sperm dysfunction in Turkish idiopathic infertile men.


Prospective study.


Andrology Laboratory of Istanbul Medical Faculty.


Semen samples from 28 idiopathic infertile men and 14 fertile men.


Sperm DNA fragmentation and reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation were assayed with the TUNEL test and 2‟,7‟-dichlorodihydrofluorescein respectively. Seminal plasma protein carbonyl groups (PC), nitrotyrosine (NT), malondialdehyde (MDA) and total thiol (SH) levels and ferric reducing antioxidant power (FRAP) were determined.

Main outcome measure:

Sperm DNA fragmentation correlated positively with ROS formation. Both correlated positively with seminal plasma oxidative parameters.


The number of TUNEL-positive spermatozoa from idiopathic infertile men was higher than that from fertile men, and ROS formation was increased as well in infertile males. A positive correlation was detected between TUNEL-positive cells and ROS content. Seminal plasma MDA, PC and NT levels were elevated in idiopathic infertile males. No difference was observed in the total SH content and FRAP. Seminal plasma MDA levels were correlated positively with both NT and PC levels. Positive correlations were detected between DNA fragmentation and MDA, NT and PC of seminal plasma, and between sperm ROS content and MDA levels.


The results of this study support the presence of oxidative stress in sperm dysfunction in Turkish idiopathic infertile men.

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