OBJECTIVE: To measure the zinc level in fertile and infertile population and to find out relationship of serum and seminal plasma zinc levels and serum testosterone in oligospermic and azoospermic infertile men. DESIGN: Comparative study. PLACE AND DURATION OF STUDY: The Infertility Clinic, Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center (JPMC), Karachi, from January 2002-July 2003. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Fifty-eight primary infertile male subjects, without any treatment, who had regular unprotected intercourse for at least 12 months without conception with their partners, aged 20-40 years, having normal and regular menstrual cycles without any uterine pathology or hormonal disturbance were selected from Infertile Clinic, Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center, Karachi. After semen analyses, they were grouped as, oligospermic (30), and azoospermic (28). Twentyfive known fertile male selected from general population (their spouse had given birth to a child within one year) and after semen analysis were taken as normospermic control group . Semen analyzed according to WHO criteria and serum and seminal plasma zinc was estimated by 5Br. PAPS colorimetric method. Serum testosterone, LH, and FSH were measured by ELISA, using kits supplied by Diagnostic System Laboratories (DSL), U.S.A. RESULTS: The mean value for testosterone was significantly low in oligospermic, (8.04 -/+ 0.76) and azoospermic subjects (7.14 -/+ 0.27) as compared to normospermic (9.90 -/+ 0.14) control groups (p<0.05, p<0.001 respectively), serum LH (p<0.05, p<0.001 respectively) and FSH (p<0.05) were significantly higher than normospermic control group. Serum and seminal plasma zinc levels was low in oligospermic, and azoospermic subjects when compared with normospermic control groups (p<0.05, p<0.001 respectively). This suggests its involvement in spermatogenesis and infertility in such patients. Seminal zinc level has weak correlation with testosterone in oligospermic (r=0.44, p<0.05) and with serum zinc in azoospermic subjects (r=0.49, p<0.05) while no correlation was observed with LH and FSH in all the groups. CONCLUSION: In this study, there was significant decrease in serum and seminal plasma zinc levels in oligospermic and azoospermic infertile males with significantly low androgen. It indicates zinc has a possible role for spermatogenesis and steroidogenesis. Therefore, zinc concentration in seminal plasma should be considered as one of the factors responsible for decreased testicular function in infertile male subjects.
J Coll Physicians Surg Pak (Journal of the College of Physicians and Surgeons--Pakistan : JCPSP)
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