This study's objectives are to assess the efficacy of detecting apoptotic caspase-3, -8, and -9 in human sperm and plasma using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA), and to compare these levels between fertile and infertile patient groups of Li nationality in China. This study offers a non-invasive, alternative strategy to analyzing sperm parameters in infertile males. Fifty-six infertile males were investigated; asthenospermia (n = 19), oligoasthenoteratozoospermia (n = 20), azoospermia (n = 17) compared with 20 healthy fertile controls. They were subjected to semen analysis by computer-assisted sperm assay (CASA). We found that caspase-3, -8, -9 existed in all specimens in both sperms and plasma. The level of caspase-3 and caspase-8 in plasma were both significantly higher than in sperm. Levels of caspase-8 and caspase-9 in sperm and plasma were significantly negatively correlated with sperm concentration, motility and A % (motility grade A). The level of caspase-8 in plasma was significantly negatively correlated with sperm concentration. However, only in healthy fertile controls sperm concentration was significantly negatively correlated with caspase-9 in sperm. Compared with the healthy fertile controls, only the OAT group exhibited significantly increased level of caspase-8 in sperm (P < 0.05). It is concluded that caspase-8 and caspase-9 in sperm and plasma are correlated with sperm motility, and can reflect the quality of sperm in vitro.
Keywords: Li nationality; Sperm; apoptosis; caspase.