male infertilityLeucocytospermia is a condition where leucocytes affect male fertility, but men with metabolic syndrome may suffer infertility even if they do not suffer from leucocytospermia, according to researchers. Sperm parameters may be compromised by cytokines rather than leucocytes. The study was published in the journal Andrologia.

Oxidative stress caused by the inflammatory condition associated with metabolic syndrome may be to blame for fertility problems. In a study of 50 men, 24 with metabolic syndrome and 26 used as controls, researchers found no evidence of leucocytospermia, but they did find lower sperm count and concentration. Men with metabolic syndrome did test higher in the sperm motility category than men in the control group, but sperm vitality and levels of free progesterone and free testosterone tested lower. DNA fragmentation and disturbed mitochondrial membrane potential were significantly higher in men with metabolic syndrome. Cytokines released as a result of inflammation are thought to be the cause of impaired fertility, a novel concept based on current medical theory.

The results of the test are not absolutely conclusive. According to researchers, the new theory assumes cytokines move into tissues of the testicle or semen. Once in the presence of sperm, cytokines can impair sperm motility, concentration and ability to fertilize the egg properly. Low free progesterone and free testosterone levels could promote the cytokine effect.

Researchers believe that further study into the impact of cytokines on fertility in male patients with metabolic syndrome could support original findings that leucocytospermia may not be the only condition affecting male fertility.

Source: K. Leisegang, A. Udodong, P.J.D. Bouic, R. R. Henkel. Effect of the metabolic syndrome on male reproductive function: a case-controlled pilot study. 28 DEC 2012 DOI: 10.1111/and.12060.