Endocrine Abstracts (2008) 16 P630

Systemic and seminal antioxidant systems in infertile men with chronic alcohol abuse

Antonio Mancini1, Roberto Festa1, Giuseppe Grande1, Vincenzo Di Donna1, Marco Di Nicola2, Luigi Janiri2, Luca Tiano4, Gian Paolo Littarru4, Alfredo Pontecorvi1 & Elisabetta Meucci3


1Chair of Endocrinology, Catholic University School of Medicine, Rome, Italy; 2Institute of Psychiatry and Psychology, Catholic University School of Medicine, Rome, Italy; 3Institute of Biochemistry and Clinical Biochemistry, Catholic University School of Medicine, Rome, Italy; 4Institute of Biochemistry, University ‘Politecnica delle Marche’, Ancona, Italy.


Oxidative stress is associated with chronic alcoholic abuse; it is also a mechanism involved in male infertility. To further investigate the relationships between these two conditions, we studied 6 patients with diagnosis of Alcohol Dependence (DSM-IV) during post-detoxification phase, who consulted our centre for infertility. We evaluated seminal parameters, hormone pattern, Total Antioxidant Capacity (TAC) and the lipophilic antioxidant Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), both in blood and seminal plasma. Patients mean age was 40.3±11.8, with history of alcohol consumption of 7±3 years; at the time of the study they were taking low dosages of mood-stabilizers or benzodiazepines. Six age-matched fertile controls were also studied. In a fasting blood sample, testosterone, estradiol, LH, FSH, FT3, FT4, TSH were determined. Standard semen analysis was performed according to WHO guidelines. CoQ10 was assayed by HPLC (in blood plasma it was also normalized for cholesterol levels); TAC was evaluated using the system metmyoglobin-H2O2, which interacting with the chromogen ABTS generates a radical spectroscopically revealed; latency time (Lag) in its appearance is proportional to antioxidant content. All patients exhibited as thenozoospemia (20.5±2.1% forward progressive motility) and normal hormone values. Blood plasma CoQ10 levels were significantly lower than controls (0.69±0.09 vs 0.81±0.12 μg/ml; CoQ10/cholesterol ratio 164.44±29.10 vs 214.63±17.23 μmol/nmol);similarly Lag was significantly lower (52.5±3.5 vs 76±10 s). On the contrary, a discordance was present in seminal plasma, with CoQ10 lower than controls (0.05±0.01 vs 0.10±0.02 μg/ml), as expected considering asthenozoospermia, but Lag not different from controls (105±27.8 vs 101±5.6 s). These preliminary data confirm a lower antioxidant defence at systemic levels in such patients, but the mechanism of infertility seems to be more complex, not simply related to a local oxidative unbalance.