Local and Systemic Oxidative Stress Biomarkers for Male Infertility: The ORION Study

Hui Ting Li, Anna T. Bergsma, Jitske Eliveld, Marian L. C. Bulthuis, Annemieke Hoek, Harry van Goor, Arno Bourgonje, Astrid Cantineau*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
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Infertility problems occur in around 10% of all couples worldwide, with male-factor infertility as the sole contributor in 20–30% of these cases. Oxidative stress (OS) is suggested to be associated with the pathophysiology of male infertility. In spermatozoa, OS can lead to damage to
the cell membrane, resulting in disruption of DNA integrity and a decrease in motility. Established biomarkers for OS include free thiols and malondialdehyde (MDA), both representing different components of the reactive species interactome (RSI). This exploratory study aimed to investigate
seminal plasma-free thiol and MDA levels in relation to semen parameters as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) to determine if these markers are adequate to define local OS status. Furthermore, this study investigated if there is a relation between systemic and local OS status by
comparing seminal concentrations of free thiol (R-SH, sulfhydryl groups, representing the extracellular redox status) and MDA (lipid peroxidation product) levels to those measured in serum. Free thiol and MDA measurements in both serum and semen plasma were performed in 50 males (18–55 y) of couples seeking fertility treatment. A significant positive correlation was found between seminal plasma-free thiol levels and sperm concentration and progressive motility (r = 0.383, p = 0.008 and r = 0.333, p = 0.022, respectively). In addition, a significant positive correlation was found between MDA levels in seminal plasma and sperm concentration (r = 0.314, p = 0.031). This study supports that seminal plasma-free thiols may be promising as local OS biomarkers. No associations were observed between local and systemic OS biomarker concentrations.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1045
Number of pages12
JournalAntioxidants (Basel, Switzerland)
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 25-May-2022


  • Male infertility
  • Oxidative stress
  • Free thiols
  • Malondialdehyde
  • Reactive oxygen species


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