Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Hum Reprod. 2003 Feb;18(2):374-83.

Increased seminal plasma lead levels adversely affect the fertility potential of sperm in IVF.

Author information

Fertility Research Laboratories, North Shore-Long Island Jewish Research Institute, Manhasset, NY, USA.



Lead remains in high levels in the environment and is known to reduce fertility in animal models, but a direct link between lead exposures and human infertility has not yet been established.


In a prospective, double-blind study of the metal ion levels and sperm function, semen was obtained from partners of 140 consecutive women undergoing their first IVF cycle. Lead in seminal plasma was determined by atomic absorption spectroscopy. Motile sperm populations were assessed for surface receptors for mannose binding, and the ability to undergo premature ('spontaneous'), and free mannose-induced acrosome reactions. Fertile donor (n = 9) sperm were exposed to exogenous lead during capacitating incubations and then assessed for mannose receptor expression and acrosome loss.


Lead levels were negatively correlated with IVF rates. Lead levels were negatively correlated to two of the three sperm function biomarkers (mannose receptors, mannose-induced acrosome reactions). Lead levels positively correlated with the spontaneous acrosome reaction. These findings were mimicked by in-vitro exposure of fertile donor sperm to lead.


Multiple sperm parameters are affected as lead levels rise. Increased lead levels may contribute to the production of unexplained male infertility.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Loading ...
    Support Center