Urogenital inflammation: Changes of leucocytes and ROS
The presence of excess leucocytes in the semen has been associated with male infertility. According to the WHO, concentrations of more than 10 leucocytes ml-1 are considered as leucocytospermia, indicating genital tract infections. Up to now, no consensus has been achieved on how leucocytes should be quantified in semen. Using the peroxidase staining and monoclonal antibodies to CD15, CD45 and CD68, we found significant differences between the detection methods. Only 47.4% of the semen samples that were assessed as leucocytospermic by CD45 were identified as such by peroxidase staining. The concentration of peroxidase-positive cells was significantly correlated with polymorphonuclear granulocyte (PMN) elastase (P < 0.0001). However, a negative correlation of peroxidase-positive cells with the sperm concentration was only found in oligozoospermic patients (P < 0.0001). Moreover, the slightly positive correlation with normal sperm morphology seems to be applicable only in cases of oligozoospermia. Significant negative correlation of the number of peroxidase-positive cells were found for both maximal inducible acrosome reaction (P = 0.0219) and the inducibility of acrosome reaction (P = 0.0370), indicating a rather deleterious effect of leucocytes on this important sperm function. Concerning the result in the in vitro fertilization programme, none of the examined parameters (PMN elastase, concentration of round cells and peroxidase-positive cells) showed a correlation with either fertilization or pregnancy. This result seems to be reasonable as severely damaged spermatozoa and leucocytes are eliminated from the ejaculate by different sperm separation methods. Interestingly, a significant negative correlation of the TUNEL assay as a measure of sperm DNA fragmentation was found only with pregnancy (P = 0.006) but not with fertilization. As DNA fragmentation can also be caused by ROS that are generated by leucocytes, this causality should not be neglected.