The impact of blood and seminal plasma zinc and copper concentrations on spermogram and hormonal changes in infertile Nigerian men

Reprod Biol. 2011 Jul;11(2):83-98. doi: 10.1016/s1642-431x(12)60047-3.


Zinc (Zn) and copper (Cu) concentrations in sera and seminal plasma of 60 infertile males (40 oligozoospermic and 20 azoospermic) and 40 males with evidence of fertility (normozoospermic; controls) were estimated using atomic absorption spectrophotometry. The results were correlated with the subject's spermogram and hormonal levels in order to determine their relationship and significance in male infertility. The mean serum concentration of zinc was significantly (p<0.01) higher in oligozoospermic males when compared to azoospermic subjects and controls. The ratios of serum Zn to seminal plasma Zn were 1:1, 1:3 or 1:4 in oligozoospermic, normozoospermic or azoospermic subjects, respectively. While the mean Cu concentration was significantly higher in serum than seminal plasma in all groups, the Zn concentration was significantly (p<0.05) higher in seminal plasma than serum. The Cu/Zn ratio in seminal plasma was significantly (p<0.01) higher in controls compared with other groups. A significant (p<0.01) inverse correlation was observed between serum Zn and sperm counts. Similarly, seminal plasma Zn negatively correlated with spermatozoa viability. In conclusion, the measurement of serum Zn level, apart from being a good index of the assessment of prostatic secretion and function, may be considered a useful tool in addition to other parameters in assessing male infertility. Also, a lower Cu/Zn ratio in seminal plasma may serve as a supportive tools in assessing male infertility.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Copper / analysis*
  • Copper / blood*
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Male / blood
  • Infertility, Male / epidemiology
  • Infertility, Male / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nigeria / epidemiology
  • Semen / chemistry*
  • Sperm Count
  • Spermatogenesis / drug effects
  • Spermatozoa / drug effects*
  • Young Adult
  • Zinc / analysis*
  • Zinc / blood*


  • Copper
  • Zinc