Journal of Endocrinological Investigation

, Volume 31, Issue 7, pp 666–671 | Cite as

5′-Nucleotidase activity is decreased in seminal plasma and spermatozoa from varicocele patients

  • C. Fini
  • M. Coli
  • A. Angelini
  • G. Brusco
  • P. Pasqualucci
  • F. Tiziani
Original Articles


5′-Nucleotidase is involved in sperm capacitation via the cAMP-adenosine pathway and in sperm motility via direct adenosine production from AMP. Since these functions are reduced in varicocele, the aim of this study was to investigate whether the enzyme levels were altered in sperm from varicocele patients. The mean (SD) international units (IU) of 5′-nucleotidase activity in seminal plasma from 35 varicocele III patients was 0.16(0.09) IU ml−1 vs 0.35(0.13) IU ml−1 in 53 controls, this decrease being statistically significant at p≤0.001. A significant decrease in activity, expressed as international units per mg of protein concentration in spermatozoa homogenates, was also observed with spermatozoa: 0.0018(0.0017) IU mg−1 in varicocele III vs 0.0081(0.0060) IU mg−1 in controls, at p≤0.001. Compared to controls, the activity decrease observed both in spermatozoa and seminal plasma from 45 men with varicocele I was not statistically significant at p≤0.05. To determine the diagnostic value of 5′-nucleotidase in assessing sperm fertility in varicocele III, we used the likelihood ratios method and best cut-offs were identified in receiver operating characteristic curves. With a prevalence of 36%, the post-test probability of infertility was 91% in spermatozoa and 78% in seminal plasma. The cut-off values of 5′-nucleotidase activity discriminating for fertile/unfertile semen were 0.2 IU ml−1 in seminal plasma and 0.003 IU mg−1 of protein in spermatozoa. Overall, determination of 5′-nucleotidase activity, especially in spermatozoa, can be useful to characterize different varicocele degrees as well as the sperm fertility potential.


5′-Nucleotidase seminal plasma spermatozoa varicocele 


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Copyright information

© Italian Society of Endocrinology (SIE) 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Fini
    • 1
  • M. Coli
    • 1
  • A. Angelini
    • 2
  • G. Brusco
    • 2
  • P. Pasqualucci
    • 2
  • F. Tiziani
    • 2
  1. 1.Dip. Medicina InternaUniversità di PeruginaPerugiaItaly
  2. 2.Department of Medico-Surgical SpecialtiesPublic HealthPerugiaItaly

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