Macrophage activity in semen is significantly correlated with sperm quality in infertile men

Date: 2-8-2010

K. Tremellen and O. Tunc  Research Centre for Reproductive Health, Discipline of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, School of Paediatrics and Reproductive Health, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA, Australia , and  Repromed, Dulwich, SA, Australia

The presence of leucocytes within semen has the potential to impair sperm function. Neutrophils and macrophages make up 95% of seminal leucocytes, with both having the ability to damage sperm via the generation of reactive oxygen species, proteases and the induction of apoptosis.  Neopterin, a molecule released from activated macrophages, may be a useful marker for macrophage activity in the male reproductive tract. To examine this possibility a total of 63 asymptomatic subjects with male factor infertility and 11 fertile controls provided semen samples for measurement of various inflammatory markers. We were able to confirm for the first time that seminal plasma does indeed contain neopterin and that the levels of this macrophage activity marker are threefold higher in infertile than fertile men. Furthermore, seminal plasma neopterin concentration was significantly correlated with sperm oxidative stress, DNA fragmentation (TUNEL) and apoptosis (Annexin V), making it a useful marker of sperm quality