TNF-α inhibitors do not impair sperm quality in males with ankylosing spondylitis after short-term or long-term treatment

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Objective. The aim of this study was to study the influence of active disease status and TNF-α antagonists on sperm quality in a group of AS patients.

Methods. Twenty-three active AS patients and 42 controls were recruited. Patients’ sperm samples were analysed at baseline (previous to) and at 3–6 months after TNF-α therapy (adalimumab, infliximab, etanercept) administration. Baseline assessment was made for only 20 patients, 2 of them proving to have normal fertility, 2 having a pregnant stable partner and the third having a 9-month-old child. Six patients were retested after 12 months of biologic therapy. Each patient acted as his own comparator. Results were further compared with sperm samples from age-matched controls. Sperm analysis was performed according to the World Health Organization (WHO) 1999 guidelines.

Results. Patients’ baseline assessment showed normozoospermia in 91% and oligozoospermia in 9% of patients. No significant differences in sperm quality were noticed at follow-up visits compared with baseline. Comparison to controls showed no statistically significant differences in semen quality, with some exceptions: the control group presented a higher percentage of non-progressive and immobile sperm cells and higher numbers of head and tail atypias.

Conclusion. Sperm quality in patients with active AS and after receiving short- and long-term TNF-α blocker therapy is comparable to sperm quality in healthy controls. Our study confirms that the disease process of AS does not have a major impact on sperm quality and that treatment with anti-TNF has no negative impact on sperm quality even under long-term treatment.

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