Seminal plasma metabolomics profiles following long (4–7 days) and short (2 h) sexual abstinence periods
Plessis, Stefan S du
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Objective: Metabolomic profiling of seminal plasma has been suggested as a possible approach for a fast and non-invasive male infertility evaluation diagnosis. However, metabolomics profiles in normozoospermic men have not been thoroughly investigated, and the influence of ejaculation-abstinence has not been described. To provide interim reference values and find associations between the metabolomics profiles of human seminal plasma and length of ejaculation-abstinence period in normozoospermic men. Study design: Semen samples collected after long (4–7 days) and short abstinence (2 h) from 31 normozoospermic males were assessed for routine quality parameters before the seminal plasma was separated by centrifugation. Metabolomics profiles of the seminal plasma were then determined using untargeted Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy. Results: In total, 30 metabolites were identified. Pyruvate showed a higher concentration, while fructose, acetate, choline, methanol, N-acetylglucosamine, O-acetylcarnitine, uridine, and sn-glycero-3- phosphocoline showed lower concentrations in samples collected after short abstinence (vs. long). All metabolites showed lower absolute amounts (volume x concentration) following shorter abstinence. However, the lower sperm concentration in samples collected after short abstinence resulted in higher absolute amounts of pyruvate and taurine per spermatozoa: pyruvate 1.92 (1.12–3.87) vs. 1.29 (0.83– 2.62) (P < 0.001) and taurine 0.58 (0.36–0.92) vs. 0.43 (0.28–0.95) (P < 0.05) ng/106 spermatozoa. Simultaneously, there was a higher percentage of progressively motile spermatozoa in samples collected after the short abstinence. Conclusion: The generally lower concentrations of seminal metabolites after short abstinence periods may be related to the shorter time available for secretion and collection of these metabolites by the accessory glands and the epididymides. The concomitant lower number of spermatozoa in the second ejaculate resulted in increased absolute amounts of pyruvate and taurine per spermatozoa, accompanied by increased spermatozoa motility in these samples. The simultaneous increase in percentages of motile spermatozoa and absolute amounts of pyruvate and taurine per spermatozoa after shorter abstinence might indicate that these two metabolites play a more critical role in sperm motility, which should be further investigated in future studies.