Sperm mitochondrial function in men with normozoospermia and asthenozoospermia

Authors: M. Čedíková 1,2;  M. Miklíková 1;  M. Grundmanová 3;  N. H. Zech 4;  M. Králíčková 1,2,5;  J. Kuncová 2,3
Authors‘ workplace: Ústav histologie a embryologie LF UK, Plzeň, přednostka doc. MUDr. M. Králíčková, Ph. D. 1;  Biomedicínské centrum LF UK, Plzeň, vědecký ředitel doc. MUDr. M. Štengl, Ph. D. 2;  Ústav fyziologie LF UK, Plzeň, přednosta doc. MUDr. M. Štengl, Ph. D. 3;  Institut reprodukční medicíny a endokrinologie, IVF Centrum Prof. Zecha, Plzeň, přednosta Univ. Doz. Dr. med. Nicolas H. Zech 4;  Gynekologicko-porodnická klinika LF UK a FN, Plzeň, přednosta doc. MUDr. Z. Novotný, CSc. 5
Published in: Ceska Gynekol 2014; 79(1): 22-28


One of causes of male infertility is reduced sperm motility. It turns out that the reduced efficiency of the mitochondrial respiratory activity may play a role in the development of this disorder. The aim of our study was to comprehensively determine mitochondrial respiratory activity of sperm with normal and reduced motility.

Prospective study.

Department of Histology and Embryology, Faculty of Medicine in Pilsen, Charles University in Prague; Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine in Pilsen, Charles University in Prague; Institute of Reproductive Medicine and Endocrinology, IVF Centers Prof. Zech, Plzeň.

Ejaculates of 14 men were obtained from IVF Center Prof. Zech, Pilsen. According to the World Health Organization classification, samples were divided into normozoospermatic (n = 7) and asthenozoospermatic(n = 7) groups. Respiratory activity of sperm was measured on two-chamber oxygraph Oroboros.

In asthenozoospermatic samples, significantly reduced activity of complex I (p = 0.007) and increased respiration after application of ATP-synthase inhibitor oligomycin (showing increased uncoupled oxidation and phosphorylation, p = 0.046) were found. Inhibition of complex I by rotenone showed that complex I contribution to the total capacity of oxidative phosphorylation of healthy sperm was relatively lower than it is typical for somatic cells.

In our study, we measured mitochondrial respiratory activity of human sperm, permeabilized by digitonin, by high-resolution oxygraphy, which allows the determination of oxygen consumption from the smallest possible number of germ cells. The study results confirm reduced activity of complex I in asthenozoospermatics and suggest that increased leakage of protons from the mitochondrial matrix, which leads to reduced efficiency of phosphorylating process, could participate in the reduced sperm motility.

Better characterization of male germ cells, either completely healthy or with affected motility, will help us to understand better the physiological process of fertilization and also to choose the most viable sperm for infertility treatment by methods of assisted reproduction.

infertility – sperm – respirometry


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Paediatric gynaecology Gynaecology and obstetrics Reproduction medicine

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