Novel association between apoptotic sperm biomarkers with seminal biochemical parameters and acetylcholinesterase activity in patients with teratozoospermia

  • Oumaima AmmarEmail author
  • Meriem Mehdi
  • Oumayma Tekeya
  • Fadoua Neffati
  • Zohra Haouas
Reproductive Physiology and Disease



We aimed to determine whether the dysfunction of physiological apoptosis and specific seminal biochemical parameters could be associated with male infertility and sperm morphological defects.

Study design

Ejaculated sperm samples from sixty patients with isolated teratozoospermia and thirty fertile donors were analyzed. The proportion of both viable and dead spermatozoa expressing activated caspases was detected by fluorescence microscopy through the use of different specific carboxyfluorescein-labeled caspase inhibitors FLICA. The different stages of apoptosis in human were qualitatively and quantitatively determined by using the AO/EB fluorescent staining method. The levels of the seminal biochemical parameters (acetylcholinesterase (AChE), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), creatine phosphokinase (CK), iron (Fe), calcium (Ca), and phosphorus (P)) were evaluated spectrophotometrically.


Patients with teratozoospermia showed significantly higher proportions of dead and live spermatozoa with activated caspases and spermatozoa in the late stage of apoptosis when compared to controls. Among the different studied biochemical seminal parameters, the rates of acetylcholinesterase activity, creatine phosphokinase, iron, and calcium were significantly increased in the patient group. However, the rate of phosphorus was significantly decreased. Interestingly, significant relationships were found between the studied biochemical and apoptotic biomarkers and the rates of atypical sperm forms with the incidences of head, mid-piece, and tail abnormalities. Furthermore, positive correlations were found between P, AChE, Fe, CK, and LDH with apoptotic markers.


These results emphasize the impact of apoptosis in the pathophysiology of teratozoospermia and suggest that seminal biochemical disturbance may arise such damage.


Apoptotic sperm biomarkers Teratozoospermia Polycaspases Seminal biochemical parameters 



The authors thank all couples, doctors, and researchers for their cooperation. We also thank our research team in there productive biology and human cytogenetic laboratory for their support.

Funding information

This work was supported by funds allocated to the Research laboratory of Histology and Genetic LR40ES18 by the Ministère Tunisien de l’Enseingement Supérieur et de la Recherche Scientifique.

Compliance with ethical standards

This protocol was approved by the local ethics committee “le comité d’éthique médicale et de recherche de l’hopital universitaire Fattouma Bourguiba de Monastir. All patients and controls had previously given informed consent for the study.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Histology Embryology and Cytogenetics (LR 40 ES 18), Faculty of MedicineUniversity of MonastirMonastirTunisia
  2. 2.Laboratory of Cytogenetics and Reproductive Biology, Center of Maternity and Neonatology, MonastirFattouma Bourguiba University Teaching HospitalMonastirTunisia
  3. 3.Laboratory of Biochemistry and ToxicologyFattouma Bourguiba University Teaching Hospital of MonastirMonastirTunisia

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