Author(s): Wiltshire EJ
Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) is a structurally unique growth factor with potent motogenic (motility inducing) effects. Studies in the murine male genital tract have suggested important associations between HGF and the acquisition of sperm motility during epididymal maturation. The aim of this study was, therefore, to determine the concentration of HGF in human semen and assess its correlation, if any, with sperm motility and other semen parameters. Semen samples were collected by masturbation and analysed using standard procedures. HGF concentrations were measured in duplicate using an enzyme-linked immunoassay technique. Total protein estimations were also made in a subset of samples. The 95 subjects were divided into three groups for analysis: normozoospermic, subnormal semen and azoospermic. HGF was detected in all samples (median 0.456, 25th centile 0.388, 75th centile 0.556 ng/ml). No significant correlations were found between semen HGF concentrations and sperm concentration, motility, total sperm count or total motile count. There were no significant differences in mean HGF concentrations between the three subgroups. In conclusion HGF is present in human semen in significant quantities. The data do not suggest HGF concentrations are correlated with parameters of sperm motility.