[Frontiers in Bioscience 1, e78-86, August 1,1996]
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CAVEAT LECTOR



OXIDATIVE STRESS AND ROLE OF ANTIOXIDANTS IN NORMAL AND ABNORMAL SPERM FUNCTION

Suresh C. Sikka, Ph.D., HCLD

Department of Urology, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

Received 05/30/96; Accepted 07/02/96; On-line 08/01/96

10. CONCLUSIONS

Oxygen toxicity is an inherent challenge to aerobic life forms, including the spermatozoa. How this toxicity affects interaction of sperm with the ovum is still unknown. Increased oxidative damage to sperm membranes (indicated by increased LPO), proteins, and DNA is associated with alterations in signal transduction mechanisms that affect fertility. Spermatozoa and oocytes possess an inherent but limited capacity to generate ROS which may help the fertilization process. A variety of defense mechanisms encompassing antioxidant enzymes (SOD, catalase, glutathione peroxidase and reductase), vitamins (E, C, and carotenoids), and biomolecules (glutathione and ubiquinol) are involved in biological systems. A balance between the benefits and risks from ROS and antioxidants appears to be necessary for the survival and normal functioning of spermatozoa. An assay system for the evaluation of oxidative stress status (OSS) may aid the clinician in the assessment of fertility status of both male and female partners. Determination of this OSS value will also theoretically identify the subgroups of responders and non-responders to any putative antioxidant therapy.

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