Spermatozoa (SPZ) are sensitive to stressful conditions, particularly oxidative stress, which alters their quality; thus, the use of protective molecules as an antioxidant is encouraged. Herein, we used melatonin (MLT) to investigate its in vitro effects on human sperm parameters under conditions of oxidative stress induced by cadmium (Cd).
Fifteen human semen samples were divided into control, Cd-treated, MLT-treated, and Cd+MLT-treated groups and analyzed after 30 min, 6 h, and 24 h of exposure. Results showed a time-dependent decrease in SPZ motility, DNA integrity, and increased apoptosis induced by oxidative stress, and these effects were counteracted by MLT co-treatment.
Based on these data, we further explored additional parameters just at 24 h. The induced oxidative stress, highlighted by the increased lipid peroxidation, reduced the percentage of SPZ able to undertake acrosome reaction and altered the levels and localization of some protein markers of motility (PREP, RSPH6A), morphology (DAAM1), and acrosome membrane (PTMA, IAM38); all these effects were counteracted by MLT co-treatment.
Interestingly, MLT alone was able to ameliorate motility at 30 min of incubation compared to the control, while at 24 h, it prevented the physiological alteration in terms of motility, DNA integrity, and apoptosis. Collectively, the data encourage MLT use as an integrative molecule to ameliorate human gamete quality when compromised by stressful conditions.