Antioxidant therapy in male infertility: fact or fiction?Asian J Androl 2011; 13(3):374-81AJ
Infertile men have higher levels of semen reactive oxygen species (ROS) than do fertile men. High levels of semen ROS can cause sperm dysfunction, sperm DNA damage and reduced male reproductive potential. This observation has led clinicians to treat infertile men with antioxidant supplements. The purpose of this article is to discuss the rationale for antioxidant therapy in infertile men and to evaluate the data on the efficacy of dietary and in vitro antioxidant preparations on sperm function and DNA damage. To date, most clinical studies suggest that dietary antioxidant supplements are beneficial in terms of improving sperm function and DNA integrity. However, the exact mechanism of action of dietary antioxidants and the optimal dietary supplement have not been established. Moreover, most of the clinical studies are small and few have evaluated pregnancy rates. A beneficial effect of in vitro antioxidant supplements in protecting spermatozoa from exogenous oxidants has been demonstrated in most studies; however, the effect of these antioxidants in protecting sperm from endogenous ROS, gentle sperm processing and cryopreservation has not been established conclusively.