Heavy metal assay in the serum and the semen of infertile patients with and without varicocele compared with fertile controls

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Abstract

Purpose

To evaluate the differential concentration of lead and cadmium in seminal plasma, relative to its serum concentration in infertile men with and without varicocele compared with fertile healthy controls, and to correlate these levels with the conventional sperm parameters and sperm vitality.

Methods

This study is a case-control study. Sixty infertile male patients, including 30 infertile men with palpable varicocele (group 1) and 30 men with idiopathic oligozoospermia and/or asthenozoospermia (group 2), in addition to 30 healthy fertile men without palpable varicocele (group 3) were included randomly in the study. Patients and controls included in the study were subjected to measurement of lead and cadmium levels in the serum and the seminal plasma, conventional semen analysis, and sperm vitality with a hypoosmotic-swelling test.

Results

Despite the lack of significant difference in the serum lead and cadmium concentrations between the three groups, there was a significant increase in both the seminal and the differential seminal concentrations of lead and cadmium among infertile men with and without varicocele in comparison with fertile controls. There were significant negative correlations between differential seminal concentrations of lead and cadmium on the one hand, and progressive sperm motility and vitality (hypoosmotic-swelling test) in infertile men of both groups in the other.

Conclusion

This study shows that, infertile men with and without varicocele tend to have a relatively higher semen concentration of heavy metals in comparison with fertile men, despite the lack of a significant difference in the corresponding serum levels. This differential elevation is correlated with the derangement of semen parameters, especially sperm motility and vitality.

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