INTRODUCTION: The aim of this study was to evaluate the conventional and biofunctional parameters of sperm in young infertile patients with Hepatitis C (HCV) infection.
METHODS: Forty HCV patients with primary infertility, aged 27 to 42years (mean 36.4years) and twenty HCV patients with secondary infertility aged 28 to 45years (mean 35.0±2.8years), underwent hormonal and sperm analysis in addition to the determination of reactive oxygen species (ROS) concentrations in the sperm and flow-cytometric evaluation. The following biofunctional sperm parameters were evaluated by flow cytometry: DNA fragmentation, mitochondrial membrane potential, chromatin condensation, and the rate of early apoptosis.
RESULTS: Overall, patients with HCV showed significantly worse median values of conventional and biofunctional sperm parameters than control subjects, including sperm density (31.7 vs. 80.4million/ml), forward motility (9.4 vs. 25%), normal forms (15.4 vs. 24.8%), DNA fragmentation (6.6 vs. 2.2%), low MMP (45.5 vs. 8%), an early apoptosis rate (5 vs. 2.7%), and abnormal chromatin (18.9 vs. 13.9%). Finally, HCV patients had significantly higher basal (250 vs. 75×10(3)/cpm) and stimulated (550 vs. 120×10(3)/cpm) ROS levels in semen compared to control subjects. None of the examined parameters (sperm, hormonal, biofunctional and assessment of oxidative status in the semen) was significantly different between HCV patients with primary and secondary infertilities.
DISCUSSION: These results confirm that HCV infection has a negative impact on sperm parameters. The overlap of the results observed in the two groups of HCV patients supports the hypothesis that HCV infection may cause to alterations in sperm parameters.