Infection by CagA-positive Helicobacter pylori strains may contribute to alter the sperm quality of men with fertility disorders and increase the systemic levels of TNF-alpha

Dig Dis Sci. 2010 Jan;55(1):94-100. doi: 10.1007/s10620-008-0704-1. Epub 2009 Jan 22.


This study was aimed to address the possibility that Helicobacter pylori infection may play a detrimental role in semen quality of men with idiopathic infertility. Infection by H. pylori and by strains expressing CagA was determined in 80 male infertile patients by Western blotting and ELISA. Semen analysis was performed by light microscopy and transmission electron microscopy quantitatively elaborated (fertility index, immaturity, necrosis, and apoptosis percentages). Systemic levels of IL-6 and TNF-alpha were evaluated. Infertile patients infected with H. pylori showed a low sperm quality respective to uninfected patients. Particularly, in CagA-positive patients we observed a significant reduction in sperm motility and in the fertility index, while apoptosis and necrosis were increased. In these patients, the means of systemic TNF-alpha levels were higher than those of uninfected patients. The negative influence of CagA-positive H. pylori infection on sperm quality may help to understand the role of chronic infections in reproductive disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antigens, Bacterial / metabolism*
  • Apoptosis
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Helicobacter Infections / complications*
  • Helicobacter Infections / microbiology
  • Helicobacter pylori / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Male / blood
  • Infertility, Male / microbiology*
  • Infertility, Male / pathology
  • Interleukin-6 / blood
  • Male
  • Necrosis
  • Sperm Count
  • Sperm Maturation
  • Sperm Motility*
  • Spermatozoa / ultrastructure*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / blood*


  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Interleukin-6
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • cagA protein, Helicobacter pylori