Sperm oxidative stress during in vitro manipulation and its effects on sperm function and embryo development

Roberto Gualtieri, Guruprasad Kalthur, Vincenza Barbato, Salvatore Longobardi, Francesca Di Rella, Satish Kumar Adiga, Riccardo Talevi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Reactive oxygen species (ROS) generated at low levels during mitochondrial respiration have key roles in several signaling pathways. Oxidative stress (OS) arises when the generation of ROS exceeds the cell’s antioxidant scavenging ability and leads to cell damage. Physiological ROS production in spermatozoa regulates essential functional characteristics such as motility, capacitation, acrosome reaction, hyperactivation, and sperm-oocyte fusion. OS can have detrimental effects on sperm function through lipid peroxidation, protein damage, and DNA strand breakage, which can eventually affect the fertility of an individual. Substantial evidence in the literature indicates that spermatozoa experiencing OS during in vitro manipulation procedures in human-and animal-assisted reproduction are increasingly associated with iatrogenic ROS production and eventual impairment of sperm function. Although a direct association between sperm OS and human assisted reproductive techniques (ART) outcomes after in vitro fertilization (IVF) and/or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is still a matter of debate, studies in animal models provide enough evidence on the adverse effects of sperm OS in vitro and defective fertilization and embryo development. This review summarized the literature on sperm OS in vitro, its effects on functional ability and embryo development, and the approaches that have been proposed to reduce iatrogenic sperm damage and altered embryonic development.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1025
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 07-2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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