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Toxicology. 2006 Jun 1;223(1-2):54-60. Epub 2006 Apr 18.

The influence of cigarette smoking on human sperm quality and DNA fragmentation.

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Department of Reproductive Medicine, Maternite Regionale Universitaire, Nancy, France.


The aim of the present study was to evaluate consequences of cigarette smoking on male gametes. In this prospective study, sperm parameters such as sperm density, motility, viability and normal morphology were measured according to the WHO criteria. In addition to these standard parameters, we analysed the degree of DNA fragmentation in spermatozoa using the TUNEL-assay with flow cytometry detection in 57 non-smokers and 51 smokers seeking for infertility counselling. The smoking intoxication was assessed by questionnaire and measured with the CO-Tester. We show that smokers' spermatozoa have a significantly higher DNA fragmentation than non-smokers (32% versus 25.9%, p<0.01). In contrast there is no significant difference in conventional parameters between smokers and non-smokers. The degree of sperm DNA fragmentation is not significantly correlated with any of the conventional parameters. These findings suggest that cigarette smoking may have deleterious effects on sperm nuclear quality and that sperm DNA fragmentation can therefore be considered as an independent parameter with diagnostic, prognostic, and strategic value in the treatment of infertility.

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