Melatonin, an indolamine secreted by the pineal gland, is known as a powerful free-radical scavenger and wide-spectrum antioxidant.
Therefore, the aim of this study was to correlate markers of oxidative protein damage (advanced oxidation protein products, AOPPs) and the total antioxidant capacity (TAC) with melatonin levels in the seminal plasma of men with azoospermia (n=37), theratozoospermia (n=29) and fertile controls (normozoospermia, n=37). Melatonin concentration was measured by radioimmunoassay. The levels of AOPP as well as TAC efficiency (determined by the ferric reducing antioxidant power, FRAP) were estimated by spectrophotometric methods.
The concentration of melatonin and AOPP significantly differed in azoospermic (P<0.0001) and theratozoospermic (P<0.0001) patients versus fertile men, and correlated negatively (r=-0.33, P=0.0016). The TAC levels were significantly higher in azoospermia than in theratozoospermia (P=0.0022) and the control group (P=0.00016). In azoospermia, the AOPP concentration was also significantly higher than that observed in theratozoospermia (P=0.00029).
Decreased levels of melatonin together with elevated AOPP altered the oxidative-antioxidative balance in the ejaculate, thereby reducing fertility. Therefore, melatonin and AOPP levels may serve as additional diagnostic markers of semen quality and male reproductive potential.