Background: Oxidative stress is implicated in the pathogenesis of primary male infertility. Some studies suggest that administration of the amino acid derivative anti-oxidant, L-carnitine, may improve sperm quality. No previous study has investigated whether the anti-oxidant effects of L-carnitine relate to changes in sperm quality in men with infertility.
Aim: Investigate whether L-carnetine significantly improves sperm function, and whether baseline levels of seminal plasma reactive oxygen species (ROS) predicts its effectiveness.
Methods: Men with oligoaesthenospermia were administered L-carnitine (Proxeed Plus) for 90 days (n=29). Semen analysis and ROS levels were measured immediately before and following L-carnitine. ROS was measured in relative light units/s (RLU/s) using an established chemiluminescence assay.
Results: L-carnetine reduced ROS markedly in subjects (ROS in RLU/s: 105±83, pre-treatment; 6.6±1.8, post-treatment, P<0.05 vs pre-treatment) but did not change sperm total motile count (TMC) significantly (n=29). In subjects with a pre-treatment ROS >10RLU/s (n=12), L-carnitine increased sperm TMC more than 2-fold (sperm TMC in millions: 18.6±8.8, pre-treatment; 51.2±27.0, post-treatment, P<0.01 vs pre-treatment).
Discussion: There is currently no approved therapy to improve sperm quality in men with primary infertility. Our data suggest that increased levels of oxidative stress may underlie a subgroup oligoaesthenospermia which is potentially amenable to L-carnetine therapy. This study has important potential implications for the treatment of men with primary infertility.
07 Nov 2016 - 09 Nov 2016