Antioxidants improve sperm quality in infertile men

Infertile men may benefit from taking antioxidant supplements to improve sperm quality, study findings suggest.

"Prior administration of antioxidants could therefore promote better outcomes following assisted reproductive techniques," say C Abad (Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona, Spain) and team.

Administration of a 3-month multivitamin course that contained L-carnitine, vitamin C, coenzyme Q10, vitamin E, vitamin B9, vitamin B12, zinc, and selenium significantly improved key sperm parameters among 20 men who had been diagnosed with asthenoteratozoospermia (AZT) - sperm with a low motility and abnormal morphology.

Moreover, the supplement helped to maintain sperm DNA integrity, significantly reducing sperm DNA fragmentation (SDF) and the amount of sperm with high levels of DNA degraded sperm (DSS).

As reported in Andrologia, measures of sperm concentration, type A motility, type A+B motility, vitality, and morphology were all significantly improved among the men after antioxidant therapy compared with beforehand.

In addition, the proportion of DDS was significantly reduced from 7.32% before therapy to 5.66% after therapy.

Following various periods of incubation at 37°C, measures of SDF (proportion of fragmented vs total sperm) were also significantly decreased with antioxidant therapy, as assessed by the sperm chromatin dispersion test. After 0, 2, 6, 8, and 24 hours of incubation, the posttreatment SDF measures were 20.1%, 20.7%, 23.0%, 25.9%, and 33.0% compared with 28.5%, 28.8%, 31.7%, 34.9%, and 54.0% before therapy.

"To our knowledge, there are no other published reports concerning the effect of oral antioxidant therapy upon the dynamics of sperm DNA fragmentation and the presence of DDS," says the team.

The findings show that oral antioxidant therapy can significantly improve the quality of sperm in men with AZT and that this course of treatment should be highly recommended, remark Abad and colleagues.

However, not all patients experienced improvement in sperm quality and further studies are needed to improve these antioxidant treatments or direct them to specific patient groups, they conclude.

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Sally Robertson

Written by

Sally Robertson

Sally first developed an interest in medical communications when she took on the role of Journal Development Editor for BioMed Central (BMC), after having graduated with a degree in biomedical science from Greenwich University.

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