Reactive oxygen species and sperm cells

Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2004 Mar 23;2:12. doi: 10.1186/1477-7827-2-12.


There is a dynamic interplay between pro- and anti-oxidant substances in human ejaculate. Excessive reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation can overwhelm protective mechanism and initiate changes in lipid and/or protein layers of sperm plasma membranes. Additionally, changes in DNA can be induced. The essential steps of lipid peroxidation have been listed as well as antioxidant substances of semen. A variety of detection techniques of lipid peroxidation have been summarized together with the lipid components of sperm membranes that can be subjected to stress. It is unsolved, a threshold for ROS levels that may induce functional sperm ability or may lead to male infertility.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Free Radicals / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lipid Peroxidation
  • Male
  • Membrane Lipids / metabolism
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism*
  • Spermatozoa / cytology
  • Spermatozoa / metabolism*
  • Spermatozoa / physiology


  • Antioxidants
  • Free Radicals
  • Membrane Lipids
  • Reactive Oxygen Species