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Volume 24, Issue 1 (January 2022) 24, 26–31; 10.4103/aja.aja_57_21

Environmental exposure to cadmium but not lead is associated with decreased semen quality parameters: quality regionalism of sperm properties

Katarzyna Olszak-Wasik1, Andrzej Tukiendorf2, Aleksandra Kasperczyk3, Artur Wdowiak4, Stanislaw Horak1

1 Department of Gynecology, Obstetrics and Oncological Gynecology in Bytom, Medical University of Silesia, School of Medicine and Division of Dentistry in Zabrze, Batorego 15, Bytom 41-902, Poland
2 Department of Public Health, Wroclaw Medical University, Bartla 5, Wroclaw 51-618, Poland
3 Department of Biochemistry, Medical University of Silesia, School of Medicine and Division of Dentistry in Zabrze, Jordana 19, Zabrze 41-808, Poland
4 Faculty of Health Sciences, Diagnostic Techniques Unit, Medical University of Lublin, Staszica 4/6, Lublin 20-081, Poland

Correspondence: Dr. K Olszak-Wasik (kolszak-wasik@sum.edu.pl)

Date of Submission 20-Nov-2020 Date of Acceptance 13-Apr-2021 Date of Web Publication 09-Jul-2021


Environmental factors may negatively contribute to a progressive worsening of semen quality, and differences in semen quality may result from different environmental exposures (regional differences) or lifestyle differences. Heavy metals are factors with a confirmed negative influence on male fertility. Among them, lead and cadmium are commonly found in human surroundings. Thus, we analyzed semen parameters (according to the World Health Organization 2010 recommendations) and semen lead and cadmium concentrations in 188 men from two different regions in Poland, a typical agricultural area and an industrial area, in couples that had been diagnosed with infertility. The assays were performed using flameless electrothermal atomic absorption spectrometry. In the statistical analysis, regional comparisons and then taxonomic comparisons based on three parameters (age, semen concentration, and sperm morphology) were applied. We showed that more cadmium than lead accumulated in semen, a higher cadmium concentration was observed in semen obtained from men from the agricultural region, and better semen quality and lower cadmium concentrations were found in the semen of men from the industrial, more polluted region. We thus showed an existing regionalism in the sperm quality properties. However, semen parameters such as morphology and progressive and nonprogressive motility followed the same trends, regardless of the patient's age, region, or class. We could conclude that the environment has a minor impact on sperm morphology and progressive and nonprogressive motility and that other existing factors could have an indirect influence on semen quality.

Keywords: cadmium; environment; lead; semen quality; taxonomic analysis

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