Oral zinc supplementation restores high molecular weight seminal zinc binding protein to normal value in Iraqi infertile men

BMC Urol. 2012 Nov 13;12:32. doi: 10.1186/1471-2490-12-32.


Background: Zinc in human seminal plasma is divided into three types of ligands which are high (HMW), intermediate (IMW), and low molecular weight ligands (LMW). The present study was aimed to study the effect of Zn supplementation on the quantitative and qualitative characteristics of semen along with Zinc Binding Protein levels in the seminal plasma in asthenozoospermic patients.

Methods: Semen samples were obtained from 37 fertile and 37 asthenozoospermic infertile men with matched age. The subfertile group was treated with zinc sulfate, every participant took two capsules per day for three months (each one 220 mg). Semen samples were obtained (before and after zinc sulfate supplementation). After liquefaction seminal fluid at room temperature, routine semen analyses were performed. For determination of the amount of zinc binding proteins, the gel filtration of seminal plasma on Sephadex G-75 was performed. All the fractions were investigated for protein and for zinc concentration by atomic absorption spectrophotometry. Evaluation of chromatograms was made directly from the zinc concentration in each fraction.

Results: A significant high molecular weight zinc binding ligands percentage (HMW-Zn %) was observed in seminal plasma of fertile males compared with subfertile males. However, seminal low molecular weight ligands (LMW-Zn) have opposite behavior. The mean value of semen volume, progressive sperm motility percentage and total normal sperm count were increased after zinc sulfate supplementation.

Conclusions: Zinc supplementation restores HMW-Zn% in seminal plasma of asthenozoospermic subjects to normal value. Zinc supplementation elevates LMW-Zn% in seminal plasma of asthenozoospermic subjects to more than normal value.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov identifier NCT01612403.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Male / drug therapy*
  • Infertility, Male / epidemiology
  • Infertility, Male / metabolism*
  • Iraq / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Reference Values
  • Semen / drug effects*
  • Semen / metabolism*
  • Zinc Sulfate / administration & dosage*


  • Carrier Proteins
  • zinc-binding protein
  • Zinc Sulfate

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01612403