Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics

, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 373–381 | Cite as

Effects of reduced seminal enzymatic antioxidants on sperm DNA fragmentation and semen quality of Tunisian infertile men

  • Fatma AtigEmail author
  • Abdelhamid Kerkeni
  • Ali Saad
  • Mounir Ajina
Gamete Biology



To evaluate levels of sperm DNA fragmentation and enzymatic antioxidant status in seminal plasma of Tunisian fertile and infertile men in order to assess the effects of seminal oxidative stress on sperm DNA integrity and semen quality.


Semen samples from 100 infertile patients (40 oligoasthenoteratozoospermics, 31 teratozoospermics and 29 asthenozoospermics) and 50 fertile men (controls) were analyzed for DNA fragmentation by TUNEL assay and biochemical parameters. Seminal antioxidant activities (Superoxide dismutase, Glutathione peroxidase and Catalase) and malondialdehyde concentrations were measured spectrophotometrically.


Sperm DNA fragmentation and malondialdehyde levels in infertile groups were more elevated than controls. Nevertheless, the activities of the antioxidant enzymes were significantly lower in abnormal groups compared to normozoospermics. Sperm DNA fragmentation was closely and positively correlated to malondialdehyde levels (r = 0.37, P = 0.008); meanwhile, reduced seminal antioxidant profile was negatively associated to sperm DNA fragmentation. Interestingly, we noted also that sperm DNA fragmentation was negatively correlated to sperm motility (r = −0.54, P < 0.001) and positively associated to the abnormal sperm morphology (r = 0.57, P = 0.002).


This report revealed that increased sperm DNA fragmentation can be due to the impaired seminal enzymatic antioxidant profile and increased Lipid peroxidation. Our results sustain that the evaluation of sperm DNA fragmentation and seminal oxidative biomarkers in infertile men is recommended as a consistent prognostic tool for male infertility assessment.


Male infertility Sperm DNA fragmentation Oxidative stress Reactive oxygen species Seminal plasma Antioxidants 



The authors are especially grateful to the study participants. We would like to thank the staff of the “department of Cytogenetic and Reproductive Biology, Soussa, Farhat Hached Hospital” for their help in semen selection and technician assistance.

Competing interests

The authors have declared that no competing interest exists.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fatma Atig
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Abdelhamid Kerkeni
    • 3
  • Ali Saad
    • 1
    • 2
  • Mounir Ajina
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Unit of Reproductive MedicineUniversity Farhat Hached HospitalSoussaTunisia
  2. 2.Department of Cytogenetic and Reproductive BiologyUniversity Farhat Hached HospitalSoussaTunisia
  3. 3.Research Laboratory of “Trace elements, free radicals and antioxidants”, Biophysical Department, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of MonastirMonastirTunisia

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