Acrosome reaction is impaired in spermatozoa of obese men: a preliminary study

Sperm acrosome reaction is impaired in obese men, showing a reduced response to P and an elevated spontaneous component, which may affect sperm fertilization potential.

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Jinous Samavat, M.Sc., Ilaria Natali, Ph.D., Selene Degl’Innocenti, M.Sc., Erminio Filimberti, M.Sc., Giulia Cantini, Ph.D., Alessandra Di Franco, M.Sc., Giovanna Danza, Ph.D., Giuseppe Seghieri, M.D., Marcello Lucchese, M.D., Elisabetta Baldi, Ph.D., Gianni Forti, M.D., Michaela Luconi, Ph.D.

Volume 102, Issue 5, Pages 1274-1281



To compare spontaneous (Sp-AR) and P-induced acrosome reaction (AR) in spermatozoa of obese and lean subjects.


Bariatric unit at a university hospital.


Prospective, observational study.


Twenty-three obese (mean ± SD body mass index [BMI], 44.3 ± 5.9 kg/m2) and 25 age-matched lean (BMI, 24.2 ± 3.0 kg/m2) subjects.



Main Outcome Measure(s):

Spontaneous and P-induced AR in spermatozoa of obese and lean subjects.


A statistically significant difference was found between obese and lean cohorts in total T and calculated free T, E2, glycated hemoglobin, and high-density lipoproteins, whereas among the routine semen parameters analyzed, only immotile sperm percentage and ejaculate volume differed significantly. Spermatozoa of obese (n = 13) vs. lean men (n = 19) showed a higher Sp-AR (17.9% ± 7.2% vs. 8.3% ± 4.2%), which resulted in a reduced ability to respond to P evaluated as the AR-after-P-challenge parameter (3.5% ± 3.2% vs. 17.6% ± 9.2%). Multivariate analysis adjusted for age revealed a significant correlation between BMI, waist, E2, and glycated hemoglobin with both Sp-AR (age-adjusted r = 0.654, r = 0.711, r = 0.369, and r = 0.644, respectively) and AR-after-P-challenge (age-adjusted r = −0.570, r = −0.635, r = −0.507, and r = −0.563, respectively). A significant difference in sperm cholesterol content was reported between obese and lean men (29.8 ± 19.5 vs. 19.1 ± 14.6 ng/μg of proteins).


Sperm AR is impaired in obese men, showing reduced response to P and elevated Sp-AR, associated with altered circulating levels of E2 and sperm cholesterol content.

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Fertility and Sterility

Editorial Office, American Society for Reproductive Medicine

Fertility and Sterility® is an international journal for obstetricians, gynecologists, reproductive endocrinologists, urologists, basic scientists and others who treat and investigate problems of infertility and human reproductive disorders.