Infections Inflammations

Both, male genital tract infections and inflammations are medical conditions that are seriously affecting spermatogenesis and sperm transit during ejaculation in terms of an obstruction of the relevant ducts. Their effects can be seen in clinical findings in cases of oligozoospermia (decreased number of sperm), asthenozoo-spermia (decreased sperm motility) or azoospermia (absence of sperm in the ejaculate) [98, 99]. Moreover, they are also the cause of dysfunctional male accessory glands [59] and significantly impaired sperm functions [100, 101]. Reportedly, the prevalence of male genital tract infection related infertility amounts to up to 35% of patients consulting for infertility [24].

According to Monga and Roberts [102], the damages to the male fertility potential can be triggered by direct action of the pathogens on spermatozoa and sperm functions or indirectly by inducing inflammatory processes in the seminal tract by activating leukocytes [103]. As a result of the latter, seminal ROS and cytokine (IL-6, IL-8 or TNF-a) levels increase and exert their detrimental effects [34, 104].

Both, ROS as well as cytokines, which in turn can trigger the production of excessive ROS [26] in spermatozoa, have been shown to be associated with the impairment of various sperm functions such as motility, acrosome reaction or sperm DNA integrity through oxidative stress [34, 65, 71, 105, 106]. The mechanism by which this damage takes place involves oxidation of sperm membranes by means of LPO as well as direct oxidation of the DNA [107, 108].

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