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Review Article Open Access
Oxygen toxicity is an intrinsic threat to aerobic life of spermatozoa, the actively motile gametes responsible for propagation of the species. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the semen have both physiological and pathological role in male fertility, by causing damage to sperm membranes, proteins, and DNA. Seminal plasma is endowed with an array of free radical scavengers called antioxidants that protect the spermatozoa against ROS. Hence, antioxidants are essential for the survival and functioning of spermatozoa. Oxidative stress, a disturbance caused by the imbalance between excessive production of reactive oxygen species and decreased antioxidant defense mechanism is now being considered to play a major contributory role in causing male factor infertility. Varicocele, vascular lesions of the pampiniform plexus, is one of the most controversial issues in the field of andrology, regarding its diagnosis and management. Earlier studies suggest a link between oxidative stress and impaired sperm function in male reproductive disorders like varicocele. Varicocele has been found to be associated with increased production of ROS in the semen, with decreased antioxidant levels in the seminal plasma, suggesting that spermatogenic dysfunction in males with varicocele maybe in part related to oxidative stress. However, the pathophysiology of oxidative stress induced infertility in varicocele has still not been completely understood. Seminal oxidative stress is thus emerging as a very important step in the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of males approaching infertility clinics for evaluation.
ROS, Gamets, Antioxidant, Infertility, Varicocele, Human Sperm, Azoospermia, Testosterone