Fertilizing potential of ejaculated human spermatozoa during in vitro semen bacterial infection

The adverse effect of bacteria and leukocytes on sperm membrane phospholipids is one of the several mechanisms by which these inflammatory mediators interfere with sperm quality with subsequent reduction in its fertilizing potential.


Monika Fraczek, Ph.D., Ewa Wiland, Ph.D., Malgorzata Piasecka, Ph.D., Magdalena Boksa, M.S., Dariusz Gaczarzewicz, Ph.D., Anna Szumala-Kakol, Ph.D., Tomasz Kolanowski, M.S., Lothar Beutin, Ph.D., Maciej Kurpisz, M.D., Ph.D.

Volume 102, Issue 3, Pages 711-719



To assess the in vitro effect of three bacterial isolates (Escherichia coli, serotype O75:HNT, Staphylococcus haemolyticus, and Bacteroides ureolyticus) and/or leukocytes on sperm motility, subcellular changes in sperm plasma membranes, and sperm fertilizing potential.


An in vitro model of semen bacterial infection.


Basic research laboratory.


Healthy normozoospermic volunteers and healthy blood donors.



Main Outcome Measure(s):

Sperm plasma membrane stability was evaluated with a LIVE/DEAD Sperm Viability Kit and with the merocyanine 540 (M540) test both performed using flow cytometry. An oxiSelect TBARS Assay Kit was used for quantitative measurement of malondialdehyde content. Functional ability of spermatozoa was assessed by hypo-osmotic swelling (HOS) test and sperm penetration assay (SPA).


The incubation of sperm with bacteria and/or leukocytes was associated with the reduction of their fertilizing potential demonstrated in both the HOS test and SPA, and this effect can be considered as a natural consequence of diminished motility and sperm membrane injury of lipid bilayers. Bacteroides ureolyticus demonstrated the most significant detrimental effect on sperm structure and function.


Sperm motility and lipid sperm membrane status might be the earliest and the most sensitive indicators of sperm damage with negative consequences for male factor fertility, which can be attributed to both bacteria and leukocytes action.

Read the full text at: http://www.fertstert.org/article/S0015-0282(14)00535-4/fulltext