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Andrologia. 2017 Nov;49(9). doi: 10.1111/and.12744. Epub 2017 Jan 26.

Metabonomic analysis of fatty acids in seminal plasma between healthy and asthenozoospermic men based on gas chromatography mass spectrometry.

Tang B1,2, Shang X1,2, Qi H1,2, Li J1,2, Ma B1,2, An G3, Zhang Q1,2.

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School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Nanjing Tech University, Nanjing, China.
Department of Andrology, Jinling Hospital, Nanjing, China.
College of Pharmacy, University of Iowa, Iowa City, USA.


The mechanism of asthenozoospermia remains unclear. The knowledge of the metabolism of fatty acids in seminal plasma is important and meaningful for the pathological study of asthenozoospermia. We present an optimised assay of extraction and derivatisation followed by GC/MS to analyse metabolites, especially fatty acids, in seminal plasma from healthy and asthenozoospermic men. Eighty-nine peaks including 17 kinds of fatty acids were analysed and identified in the chromatogram. The GC/MS data were analysed using t test, fold change and partial least squares discriminant analysis to explore the potential biomarkers of asthenozoospermia. Seven metabolites in asthenozoospermic group were found to be significantly different from those in the normal group (with p < .05, fold change >1.2 and variable importance for projection >1). Of which, high levels of oleic acid and palmitic acid in seminal plasma from asthenozoospermic men may indicate a membrane metabolism disorder in spermatozoa and the lack of valine in the asthenozoospermic group may contribute to poor sperm motility. The results may facilitate the understanding of the role of fatty acids and amino acids in asthenozoospermia and provide solid foundation for further pathological study of asthenozoospermia.


GC/MS; asthenozoospermia; fatty acids; metabonomic; seminal plasma

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