Assessment of semen function and lipid peroxidation among lead exposed men

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The study population included healthy, fertile men, employees of Zinc and Lead Metalworks (n = 63). Workers exposed to lead were divided into two groups: a group with moderate exposure to lead (ME)—blood lead level (PbB) 25–40 μg/dl and a group with high exposure to lead (HE) PbB = 40–81 μg/dl. The control group consisted of office workers with no history of occupational exposure to lead. Evaluation of lead, cadmium and zinc level in blood and seminal plasma, zinc protoporphyrin in blood (ZPP), 5-aminolevulinic acid in urine (ALA), malondialdehyde (MDA) in seminal plasma and sperm analysis were performed. No differences were noted in the concentration of cadmium and zinc in blood and seminal plasma in the study population. Lipid peroxidation in seminal plasma, represented as MDA concentration, significantly increased by about 56% in the HE group and the percentage of motile sperm cells after 1 h decreased by about 34% in comparison to the control group. No statistically significant correlation between other parameters of sperm analysis and lead exposure parameters nor between lead, cadmium and zinc concentration in blood and seminal plasma were found. A positive association between lead intoxication parameters (PbB, ZPP, lead seminal plasma) and MDA concentration in sperm plasma and inverse correlation with sperm cells motility (PbB, ZPP) was found. An increased concentration of MDA was accompanied by a drop in sperm cells motility.In conclusion, we report that high exposure to lead causes a decrease of sperm motility in men most likely as a result of increased lipid peroxidation, especially if the level in the blood surpasses the concentration of 40 μg/dl.

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