- Nitric oxide synthase
- Zinc supplementation
- Oxidative stress
Low concentrations of nitric oxide (NO) are necessary for the biology and physiology of spermatozoa, but high levels of NO are toxic and have negative effects on sperm functions. Although several studies have considered the relationship between infertility and semen NO concentrations, no study on the effects of asthenospermia treatments such as oral zinc supplementation on concentrations of NO, which are important in fertility, has been reported. Studies have shown that oral zinc supplementation develops sperm count, motility and the physical characteristics of sperm in animals and in some groups of infertile men. The present study was conducted to study the effect of zinc supplementation on the quantitative and qualitative characteristics of semen, along with enzymes of the NO pathway in the seminal plasma of asthenospermic patients.
Semen samples were obtained from 60 fertile and 60 asthenozoospermic infertile men of matched age. The subfertile group was treated with zinc sulfate; each participant took two capsules (220 mg per capsule) per day for 3 months. Semen samples were obtained (before and after zinc sulfate supplementation). After liquefaction of the seminal fluid at room temperature, routine semen analyses were performed. The stable metabolites of NO (nitrite) in seminal plasma were measured by nitrophenol assay. Arginase activity and NO synthase activity were measured spectrophotometrically.
Peroxynitrite levels, arginase activity, NO synthase activity and various sperm parameters were compared among fertile controls and infertile patients (before and after treatment with zinc sulfate). Peroxynitrite levels and NO synthase activity were significantly higher in the infertile patients compared to the fertile group. Conversely, arginase activity was significantly higher in the fertile group than the infertile patients. Peroxynitrite levels, arginase activity and NO synthase activity of the infertile patient were restored to normal values after treatment with zinc sulfate. Volume of semen, progressive sperm motility percentage and total normal sperm count were increased after zinc supplementation.
Treatment of asthenospermic patients with zinc supplementation leads to restored peroxynitrite levels, arginase activity and NO synthase activity to normal values and gives a statistically significant improvement of semen parameters compared with controls.
ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT01684059