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Year : 2013  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 15-21

Serum and seminal fluid zinc in males presenting with infertility in a Nigerian population

1 Department of Chemical Pathology, College of Health Sciences, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria
2 Omni Medical Centre and Advanced Fertility Clinic, Lagos, Nigeria
3 Department of Chemical Pathology, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
O A Ajose
Department of Chemical Pathology, College of Health Sciences, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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Background: The usefulness of serum and seminal fluid zinc measurements, in investigating male infertility in the Nigerian population has been evaluated, by determining the relationship between zinc levels in these body fluids and % spermatozoa headpiece abnormality, % spermatozoa motility and sperm count. We have also explored the possibility of substituting serum zinc for seminal fluid zinc measurement, in investigating this condition, by determining the relationship between serum and seminal fluid zinc levels. Materials and Methods: Sixty (60) infertile males, aged 32 – 53 years, were recruited for the study by random selection. The subjects were classified on the basis of sperm cunt into three groups: azospermic (3.3%); oligospermic (75%) and normospermic (21.7%). Pairs of samples (blood sample and semen) were obtained from the subjects for laboratory analysis. Atomic absorption spectroscopy was used to measure zinc levels. Semen analysis was done by employing the conventional method (World Health Organisation-1987). Statistical analysis of all data was done using SPSS 14. Results: Mean serum zinc concentration in the three groups was not significantly different, likewise mean seminal zinc level. There was a positive correlation between serum and seminal fluid zinc levels in the normospermic and oligospermic groups (r=0.4; p < 0.05 and r=0.6; p<0.01) respectively. Furthermore, a strong positive correlation existed between seminal zinc concentration and percentage spermatozoa headpiece abnormality (r=0.84, p < 0.01), and also between serum zinc levels and percentage headpiece abnormality (r=0.60, p < 0.05). However, a significant negative correlation exists between seminal zinc level and percentage motile spermatozoa (r=0.57, p < 0.05). Conclusion: Zinc is one of the major components that determine semen quality. Routine seminal zinc analysis is useful as a complementary test in investigating male infertility, especially in the normospermic group, while serum zinc could serve as substitute for seminal fluid zinc analysis.

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