Biological Trace Element Research

, Volume 189, Issue 1, pp 85–94 | Cite as

Serum and Seminal Plasma Element Concentrations in Relation to Semen Quality in Duroc Boars

  • Ying-hui Wu
  • Wen Lai
  • Zi-hui Liu
  • Hong-kui Wei
  • Yuan-fei Zhou
  • Jia-jian Tan
  • Hai-qing Sun
  • Sheng-qing Li
  • Jian PengEmail author


Element concentrations in serum and seminal plasma were studied in Duroc boars with different semen quality characteristics. Based on the utilization rate of 2174 ejaculates from June to August in 2016, a total of 166 Duroc boars were allocated into three groups: low utilization rate group (LG, 0 to 60% utilization rate), medium utilization rate group (MG, 60 to 80%), and high utilization rate group (HG, 80 to 100%). Serum and seminal plasma samples were collected, and element levels were analyzed using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. The results showed that LG boars had higher concentrations of serum copper and seminal plasma cadmium compared with MG and HG boars (P < 0.05), and serum copper and seminal plasma cadmium were negatively correlated with sperm motility, while positively correlated with the abnormal sperm rate. We observed the abnormal sperm rate increased by approximately 4.53% with serum copper increasing from 1.63 to 2.44 mg/L, while sperm motility decreased by approximately 2.85% with seminal plasma cadmium increasing from 0 to 0.82 μg/L. Moreover, serum iron and manganese levels in the LG group were significantly reduced compared with the HG boars (P < 0.05), and the two elements were negatively correlated with the abnormal sperm rate (P < 0.05). In conclusion, excessive copper and absence of iron and manganese in serum as well as higher seminal plasma cadmium may reduce the utilization rate of semen by impairing sperm motility and morphology, indicating the importance of adding and monitoring microelements in boar diet.


Duroc boar Element Semen quality Seminal plasma Serum 



This study was supported by the National Key Research and Development Project of China (2017YFD0502004) and China Agriculture Research System (CARS–36). Ying-hui Wu and Jian Peng designed the study.

Author contributions

Zi-hui Liu and Sheng-qing Li offered detecting instrument for determined of element levels, and Jia-jian Tan and Hai-qing Sun offered conditions for boar evaluation at YangXiang Joint Stock Company. All authors contributed to analysis, interpretation of the result, and writing of the article. Jian Peng had primary responsibility for the final content.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest. All authors have read the manuscript and have agreed to submit it in its current form for consideration for publication in the journal.

Ethics Approval

All animal handling protocols were approved by the Animal Care and Use Committee of the College of Animal Science and Technology, Huazhong Agricultural University (approval permit number HZAUSW-2016-011), and were conducted in accordance with the National Research Council’s Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.


  1. 1.
    Tsakmakidis IA, Lymberopoulos AG, Khalifa TA (2010) Relationship between sperm quality traits and field–fertility of porcine semen. J Vet Sci 11:151–154. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Broekhuijse ML, Šoštarić E, Feitsma H, Gadella BM (2012) The value of microscopic semen motility assessment at collection for a commercial artificial insemination center, a retrospective study on factors explaining variation in pig fertility. Theriogenology 77:1466–1479. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Wong WY, Flik G, Groenen PMW, Swinkels DW, Thomas CMG, Copius-Peereboom JHJ, Merkus HMWM, Steegers-Theunissen RPM (2001) The impact of calcium, magnesium, zinc, and copper in blood and seminal plasma on semen parameters in men. Reprod Toxicol 15:131–136. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Pesch S, Bergmann M, Bostedt H (2006) Determination of some enzymes and macro– and microelements in stallion seminal plasma and their correlations to semen quality. Theriogenology 66:307–313. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Villaverde AI, Fioratti EG, Ramos RS et al (2014) Blood and seminal plasma concentrations of selenium, zinc and testosterone and their relationship to sperm quality and testicular biometry in domestic cats. Anim Reprod Sci 150:50–55. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Knazicka Z, Tvrda E, Bardos L, Lukac N (2012) Dose- and time-dependent effect of copper ions on the viability of bull spermatozoa in different media. J Environ Sci Health A Tox Hazard Subst Environ Eng 47:1294–1300. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Pipan MZ, Mrkun J, Strajn BJ, Vrtač KP, Kos J, Pišlar A, Zrimšek P (2017) The influence of macro– and microelements in seminal plasma on diluted boar sperm quality. Acta Vet Scand 59:11. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    García–Contreras A, De LY, Garcíaartiga C et al (2011) Elevated dietary intake of Zn–methionate is associated with increased sperm DNA fragmentation in the boar. Reprod Toxicol 31:570–573. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Rodríguez AL, Rijsselaere T, Beek J et al (2013) Boar seminal plasma components and their relation with semen quality. Syst Biol Reprod Med 59:5–12. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Ahmad SAWG (1999) Effects of lead on the male reproductive system in mice. J Toxicol Environ Health J Toxicol Environ Health Part A 56:513–521. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Monsefi M, Alaee S, Moradshahi A, Rohani L (2010) Cadmium-induced infertility in male mice. Environ Toxicol 25:94–102. Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Pant N, Kumar G, Upadhyay AD, Gupta YK, Chaturvedi PK (2015) Correlation between lead and cadmium concentration and semen quality. Andrologia 47:887–891. Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Li C, Zhao K, Zhang H, Liu L, Xiong F, Wang K, Chen B (2018) Lead exposure reduces sperm quality and DNA integrity in mice. Environ Toxicol 33:594–602. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Telisman S, Cvitković P, Jurasović J, Pizent A, Gavella M, Rocić B (2000) Semen quality and reproductive endocrine function in relation to biomarkers of lead, cadmium, zinc, and copper in men. Environ Health Perspect 108:45–53. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Zhao L, Ru Y, Liu M, Tang JN, Zheng JF, Wu B, Gu YH, Shi HJ (2017) Reproductive effects of cadmium on sperm function and early embryonic development in vitro. PLoS One 12:e0186727. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Tvrdá E, Kňažická Z, Lukáčová J, Schneidgenová M, Goc Z, Greń A, Szabó C, Massányi P, Lukáč N (2013) The impact of lead and cadmium on selected motility, prooxidant and antioxidant parameters of bovine seminal plasma and spermatozoa. Environ Lett 48(10):1292–1300. Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Pant N, Upadhyay G, Pandey S, Mathur N, Saxena DK, Srivastava SP (2003) Lead and cadmium concentration in the seminal plasma of men in the general population: correlation with sperm quality. Reprod Toxicol 17(4):447–450. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Massányi P, Trandzík J, Nad P et al (2003) Concentration of copper, iron, zinc, cadmium, lead, and nickel in boar semen and relation to the spermatozoa quality. Environ Lett 38:2643–2651. Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    BilandžIc´ N, Sedak M, Vrataric´ D, Peric’T, Šimic’B (2009) Lead and cadmium in red deer and wild boar from different hunting grounds in Croatia. Sci Total Environ 407:4243–4247. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Wang C, Li JL, Wei HK, Zhou YF, Tan JJ, Sun HQ, Jiang SW, Peng J (2016) Effects of feeding regimen on weight gain, semen characteristics, libido, and lameness in 170– to 250–kilogram Duroc boars. J Anim Sci 94:4666–4676. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Beorlegui N, Cetica P, Trinchero G, Córdoba M, Beconi M (1997) Comparative study of functional and biochemical parameters in frozen bovine sperm. Andrologia 29:37–42. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Kozink DM, Estienne MJ, Harper AF, Knight JW (2004) Effects of dietary L–carnitine supplementation on semen characteristics in boars. Theriogenology 61:1247–1258. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Shipley CF (1999) Breeding soundness examination of the boar. J Swine Health Prod 7:117–120Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Smital J, De Sousa LL, Mohsen A (2004) Differences among breeds and manifestation of heterosis in AI boar sperm output. Anim Reprod Sci 80:121–130. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Wolf J, Smital J (2009) Quantification of factors affecting semen traits in artificial insemination boars from animal model analyses. J Anim Sci 87:1620–1627. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Aguiar GF, Batista BL, Rodrigues JL et al (2012) Determination of trace elements in bovine semen samples by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry and data mining techniques for identification of bovine class. J Dairy Sci 95:7066–7073. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Uriuadams JY, Keen CL (2005) Copper, oxidative stress, and human health. Mol Asp Med 26:268–298. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Massányi P, Trandzik J, Nad P et al (2004) Concentration of copper, iron, zinc, cadmium, lead, and nickel in bull and ram semen and relation to the occurrence of pathological spermatozoa. Environ Lett 39:3005–3014. Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Gamik P, Bre J, Vrzgula L, Mesáko P (1990) Effect of experimental intoxication with copper from industrial emission on reproductive ability in rams. Reprod Domest Anim 25:235–241. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Mesaros P, Cigankova V, Valocka I et al (2005) Zinc and copper concentration in the blood serum of boars after the administration of Zindep inj. A.U.V. Folia Vet 49(4):193–197Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Olivari FA, Hernández PP, Allende ML (2009) Acute copper exposure induces oxidative stress and cell death in lateral line hair cells of zebrafish larvae. Brain Res 1244:1–12. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Tvrdá E, Lukáč N, Schneidgenová M, Lukáčová J, Szabó C, Goc Z, Greń A, Massányi P (2013) Impact of seminal chemical elements on the oxidative balance in bovine seminal plasma and spermatozoa. J Vet Med 2013(2013–9–9):1–8. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Li YY, Wu JQ, Wei Y, Zhou WJ, Gao ES (2008) Are serum zinc and copper levels related to semen quality? Fertil Steril 89:1008–1011. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Lieu PT, Heiskala M, Peterson PA, Yang Y (2001) The roles of iron in health and disease. Mol Asp Med 22:1–87. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Wise T, Lunstra DD, Rohrer GA, Ford JJ (2003) Relationships of testicular iron and ferritin concentrations with testicular weight and sperm production in boars. J Anim Sci 81:503–511CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Mudron P, Baumgartner W, Kovac G, Bartko P, Jr RI, Zezula I (1996) Effects of iron and vitamin E administration on some immunological parameters in pigs. DTW Dtsch Tierarztl Wochenschr 103:131–133Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Lapointe S, Ahmad I, Buhr MM, Lambert RD, Sirard MA (1996) Modulation of postthaw motility, survival, calcium uptake, and fertility of bovine sperm by magnesium and manganese. J Dairy Sci 79:2163–2169. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Pine M, Lee B, Dearth R, Hiney JK, Dees WL (2005) Manganese acts centrally to stimulate luteinizing hormone secretion: a potential influence on female pubertal development. Toxicol Sci 85:880–885. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Chang EC, Kosman DJ (1989) Intracellular Mn (II)–associated superoxide scavenging activity protects Cu, Zn superoxide dismutase–deficient Saccharomyces cerevisiae against dioxygen stress. J Biol Chem 264:12172–12178Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Maringuzman J, Mahan DC, Whitmoyer R (2000) Effect of dietary selenium and vitamin E on the ultrastructure and ATP concentration of boar spermatozoa, and the efficacy of added sodium selenite in extended semen on sperm motility. J Anim Sci 78:1544–1550CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Jurasović J, Cvitković P, Pizent A, Colak B, Telisman S (2004) Semen quality and reproductive endocrine function with regard to blood cadmium in Croatian male subjects. Biometals 17:735–743. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Mendiola J, Moreno JM, Roca M, Vergara-Juárez N, Martínez-García MJ, García-Sánchez A, Elvira-Rendueles B, Moreno-Grau S, López-Espín JJ, ten J, Bernabeu R, Torres-Cantero AM (2011) Relationships between heavy metal concentrations in three different body fluids and male reproductive parameters: a pilot study. Environ Health–Glob 10:6. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Slivkova J, Popelkova M, Massanyi P, Toporcerova S, Stawarz R, Formicki G, Lukac N, Putała A, Guzik M (2009) Concentration of trace elements in human semen and relation to spermatozoa quality. J Environ Sci Health A Tox Hazard Subst Environ Eng 44:370–375. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Guzikowski W, Szynkowska MI, Motakpochrzęst H, Pawlaczyk A, Sypniewski S (2015) Trace elements in seminal plasma of men from infertile couples. Arch Med Sci 11:591–598. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Migliarini B, Campisi AM, Maradonna F, Truzzi C, Annibaldi A, Scarponi G, Carnevali O (2005) Effects of cadmium exposure on testis apoptosis in the marine teleost Gobius niger. Gen Comp Endocrinol 142:241–247. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Wang L, Xu T, Lei W, Liu D, Li Y, Xuan R, Ma J (2011) Cadmium–induced oxidative stress and apoptotic changes in the testis of freshwater crab, Sinopotamon henanense. Pols One 6:e27853. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Kuo HW, Wang CS, Lai JS (1997) Semen quality in workers with long–term lead exposure: a preliminary study in Taiwan. Sci Total Environ 204:289–292. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Hernández–Ochoa I, García–Vargas G, López–Carrillo L et al (2005) Low lead environmental exposure alters semen quality and sperm chromatin condensation in northern Mexico. Reprod Toxicol 20:221–228. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Wu HM, Lintan DT, Wang ML et al (2012) Lead level in seminal plasma may affect semen quality for men without occupational exposure to lead. Reprod Biol Endocrinol 10:1–5. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    Xu DX, Shen HM, Zhu QX, Chua L, Wang QN, Chia SE, Ong CN (2003) The associations among semen quality, oxidative DNA damage in human spermatozoa and concentrations of cadmium, lead and selenium in seminal plasma. Mutat Res 534:155–163. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Breitbart H (2002) Intracellular calcium regulation in sperm capacitation and acrosomal reaction. Mol Cell Endocrinol 187(1–2):139–144. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Liu Z, Chen L, Shang Y, Huang P, Miao L (2013) The micronutrient element zinc modulates sperm activation through the SPE–8 pathway in Caenorhabditis elegans. Development 140:2103–2107. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Asghari A, Akbari G, Galustanian G (2016) Magnesium sulfate improves sperm characteristics against varicocele in rat. Crescent J Med Biol Sci 2:37–41Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ying-hui Wu
    • 1
  • Wen Lai
    • 1
  • Zi-hui Liu
    • 2
  • Hong-kui Wei
    • 1
  • Yuan-fei Zhou
    • 1
  • Jia-jian Tan
    • 3
  • Hai-qing Sun
    • 3
  • Sheng-qing Li
    • 2
  • Jian Peng
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Animal Nutrition and Feed Science, College of Animal Science and TechnologyHuazhong Agricultural UniversityWuhanPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Department of Chemistry, College of ScienceHuazhong Agricultural UniversityWuhanPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.YangXiang Joint Stock CompanyGuigangPeople’s Republic of China
  4. 4.The Cooperative Innovation Center for Sustainable Pig ProductionWuhanPeople’s Republic of China

Personalised recommendations