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Volume 11, Issue 4 (July 2009) 11, 484–491; 10.1038/aja.2009.26

Proteomic analysis of seminal plasma from asthenozoospermia patients reveals proteins that affect oxidative stress responses and semen quality

Jun Wang1, Jian Wang2, Hua-Rong Zhang1, Hui-Juan Shi2, Duan Ma3, Hong-Xin Zhao2, Biaoyang Lin1 and Run-Sheng Li2

1 Systems Biology Division, Zhejiang-California Nanosystems Institute (ZCNI) Zhejiang University, Zhejiang University Huajiachi Campus, Hangzhou 310029, China
2 Key Laboratory of Contraceptive Drugs and Devices of National population and family planning committee (NPFPC), Shanghai Institute of Planned Parenthood Research, Shanghai 200030, China
3 Key Laboratory of Molecular Medicine, Ministry of Education, Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Shanghai Medical College, Fudan University, Shanghai 200030, China

Correspondence: Dr Run-Sheng Li, E-mail:runshengli2007@gmail.com; Dr. Biaoyang Lin, E-mail:biaoylin@zju.edu.cn

Received 1 November 2008; Revised 26 February 2009; Accepted 1 April 2009; Published online 18 May 2009


Asthenozoospermia (AS) is a common cause of human male infertility. In one study, more than 80% of the samples from infertile men had reduced sperm motility. Seminal plasma is a mixture of secretions from the testis, epididymis and several male accessory glands, including the prostate, seminal vesicles and Cowper's gland. Studies have shown that seminal plasma contains proteins that are important for sperm motility. To further explore the pathophysiological character of AS, we separated the seminal plasma proteins from AS patients and healthy donors using sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and in-gel digestion, and then subjected the proteins to liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) analysis. A total of 741 proteins were identified in the seminal plasma, with a false discovery rate of 3.3%. Using spectral counting, we found that 45 proteins were threefold upregulated and 56 proteins were threefold downregulated in the AS group when compared with the control. Most of these proteins originated from the epididymis and prostate. This study identified a rich source of biomarker candidates for male infertility and indicates that functional abnormalities of the epididymis and prostate can contribute to AS. We identified DJ-1—a protein that has been shown elsewhere to be involved in the control of oxidative stress (OS)—as a downregulated protein in AS seminal plasma. The levels of DJ-1 in AS seminal plasma were about half of those in the control samples. In addition, the levels of reactive oxygen species were 3.3-fold higher in the AS samples than in the controls. Taken together, these data suggest that downregulation of DJ-1 is involved in OS in semen, and therefore affects the quality of the semen.

Keywords: asthenozoospermia, comparative proteomics, DJ-1, seminal plasma

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