Reactive Oxygen Species

The metabolism of oxygen results in the generation of highly reactive agents belonging to the class of free radicals and are termed ROS [31] . Free radicals are shortlived atoms or molecules that contain one or more electrons with unpaired spin [1, 32]. These chemical intermediates can include hydroxyl radicals, superoxide anions, hypochlorite ions, and peroxyl radicals and are natural by-products of normal physiological processes [3, 31, 33] . An important factor to consider when examining the role of ROS is the concentration at which they are found. ROS illicit a biopositive influence when maintained at low concentrations. However, excessive generation of these oxidizing agents, accompanied by a lack of inactivation, results in damage to biomolecules [31, 32].

In the light of this counterbalance, spermatozoa face what is known as the "oxygen paradox." This contradiction lies in the fact that spermatozoa require oxygen for survival; however, the metabolites it produces, for example ROS, can compromise cell survival .30, 32] . When this environment develops, the natural defense system of scavenging antioxidants can be overwhelmed and basic semen parameters are negatively affected [15]. The consistent production of ROS by cellular aerobic metabolism makes it challenging to prevent OS injury in spermatozoa. The result is the counterbalance and OS which can cause pathological effects [34] . The extent of the damage that OS can have on semen and spermatozoa parameters is dependent on the level of ROS that is produced by the activated leukocytes and the extent by which it can overwhelm the natural antioxidant defense system [35].

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