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Fertil Steril. 1986 Feb;45(2):273-9.

Inhibition of sperm motility and agglutination of sperm cells by free fatty acids in whole semen.


The effects of a serial dilution of linoleic acid on human spermatozoa in whole semen was tested on 21 semen samples obtained from 11 normal volunteers. The minimal concentration of linoleic acid required to stop the movement of at least 75% of the moving sperm ranged from 1 to greater than 100 mg/dl. Fifteen of 21 (71%) of the semen samples were inhibited by added free fatty acids (FFA) concentrations that were less than or close to the physiologic concentration ranges of FFA in blood plasma (1 to 30 mg/dl). The immobilized sperm often formed aggregates similar to those formed by the action of autoantibodies against sperm cells. Preliminary studies conducted on a variety of other FFA have indicated that oleic acid (18/1) was less toxic than linoleic acid (18/2) and that linolenic acid (18/3) was more toxic than linoleic acid. The saturated FFA palmitic acid (16/0) and stearic acid (18/0) at concentrations up to 100 mg/dl showed little or no toxicity to sperm cells. It is suggested that FFA toxicity be included among physiologic factors that affect the motility and spontaneous aggregation of sperm cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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