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Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2019 Feb 16;17(1):24. doi: 10.1186/s12958-019-0468-9.

Effects of N-acetyl-cysteine supplementation on sperm quality, chromatin integrity and level of oxidative stress in infertile men.

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Department of Biology, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran.
Department of Reproductive Biotechnology, Reproductive Biomedicine Research Center, ACECR, Royan Institute for Biotechnology, Isfahan, Iran.



Infertile men have higher levels of semen reactive oxygen species (ROS) than fertile men. High levels of semen ROS can cause sperm dysfunction, sperm DNA damage and reduced male reproductive potential. This study investigated the effects of supplementation with N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) on the sperm quality, chromatin integrity and levels of oxidative stress in infertile men.


The study was carried out in the unit of ACECR Infertility Research Center, Qom, Iran. The patients consisted of 50 infertile men with asthenoteratozoospermia who received NAC (600 mg/d) orally for 3 months, after which they were compared with pre-treatment status. Semen was analyzed according to WHO (2010), followed by the assessment of protamine content [chromomycin A3 (CMA3)] and DNA integrity [terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick-end labeling (TUNEL)]. Oxidative stress markers, i.e. total antioxidant capacity (TAC) and malondialdehyde (MDA), as well as hormonal profile (LH, FSH, Testosterone and Prolactin) were determined by ELISA kit.


After NAC treatment, patients' sperm count and motility increased significantly whereas abnormal morphology, DNA fragmentation and protamine deficiency showed significant decreases compared to pre-treatment levels (P < 0.05). Hormonal profile improvement was associated with lowered FSH and LH levels and increased amount of testosterone (P < 0.05). TAC significantly increased and MDA decreased with an inverse significant correlation between TAC and MDA (P < 0.05).


NAC oral supplementation may improve sperm parameters and oxidative/antioxidant status in infertile males.


Asthenoteratozoospermia; Infertility; N-acetyl-cysteine; Oxidative stress

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