Seminal plasma adipokine levels are correlated with functional characteristics of spermatozoa

Obesity has an impact on semen quality, and adipokines appear to influence semen parameters potentially in conjunction with body mass index.

Stephanie Thomas, Dorothea Kratzsch, Michael Schaab, Markus Scholz, Ph.D., Sonja Grunewald, M.D., Joachim Thiery, M.D., Uwe Paasch, M.D., Juergen Kratzsch, Ph.D.

Volume 99, Issue 5, Pages 1256-1263.e3, April 2013


To study the effect of adipokines as a potential link between obesity and male subfertility.

For the cross-sectional study the subjects were stratified into subgroups according to their BMI as normal-weight (18.50-24.99 kg/m2), overweight (25-29.99 kg/m2) and obese (> 30 kg/m238 ).

Leipzig, Germany from 2007 to 2011.

96 voluntary donors were enrolled for this study. Only individuals without spermatogenesis associated diseases were included.


Main Outcome Measure(s):
Semen parameters, reproductive hormones in serum as well as leptin, adiponectin, resistin, chemerin, progranulin, vaspin and visfatin concentrations in serum and seminal plasma were determined.

All measured adipokines were detectable in human seminal plasma. Levels of progranulin, visfatin and vaspin were significantly higher in seminal plasma than in serum. Increase of body weight was associated with decreased levels of seminal plasma progranulin. Additionally, overweight/obese men had significantly lower progranulin levels in seminal plasma than normal-weight men. Adiponectin and progranulin concentrations in seminal plasma correlated significantly positive with sperm concentration, sperm count and total normomorph spermatozoa.

Adipokines are differently regulated in human male reproductive tract compared to peripheral blood and could influence sperm functionality.

  • This article examines the role of serum and seminal plasma levels of adipokines on sperm function. I feel that the major limitation of this work is the issue that these adipokine concentrations are largely indicative of the seminal plasma concentrations and not necessarily the intra-testicular concentrations seen by developing spermatozoa. The authors allude to this in their comment that these adipokines are also present in seminal plasma of vasectomized men. I would like to know their thoughts on if the intra-testicular levels would be correlated with the seminal plasma levels and how this could lead to potential bias in their work.

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