A chemical compound based on methylxanthine-polyphenols lowers nitric oxide levels and increases post-thaw human sperm viability

Zygote. 2017 Dec;25(6):719-730. doi: 10.1017/S0967199417000600. Epub 2017 Nov 28.


We produced a new chemical compound based on methylxanthines and polyphenols (CCMP) present in the chemical matrix of guaraná (Paullinia cupana), a seed extract with antioxidant properties. After supplementation with the standard extract of resveratrol, a well documented antioxidant found in other plant sources, we investigated whether this resveratrol-enriched compound could improve sperm viability and modulate differentially reactive oxygen species (ROS) and nitric oxide (NO) levels in thawed sperm. Sperm samples obtained from healthy young donors were treated with different concentrations of guaraná extract (0.1, 1, 5 or 10 mg/ml) and cells were frozen at -80°C for 24 h. In addition, the potential protective effects of guaraná treatment on sperm treated with pro-oxidant compound (200 µM hydrogen peroxide, H2O2) were assessed. Samples were also exposed to three concentrations of CCMP before being frozen in liquid nitrogen (-196°C) or in an ultrafreezer (-80°C) for 24 h, and both pre-freezing and post-thaw measurements of viability and oxidative stress were performed. Guaraná supplementation at 10 mg/ml significantly increased post-thaw viability and decreased oxidative metabolism of the sperm. Moreover, selected concentrations of CCMP improved viability and oxidative metabolism in sperm samples pre-freezing. Furthermore, CCMP showed cryoprotective activity by increasing viability and decreasing oxidative stress in post-thaw samples. In summary, these findings suggested that CCMP supplementation acts as a cryoprotectant to modulate ROS and NO levels in thawed sperm. CCMP could be used to enhance sperm quality and reproductive success.

Keywords: Caffeine; Catechin; Resveratrol; Sperm cryoprotection; Theobromine.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Cryoprotective Agents / pharmacology
  • Freezing
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism*
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Paullinia / chemistry*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Polyphenols / chemistry*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Semen Analysis
  • Sperm Motility / drug effects*
  • Spermatozoa / drug effects
  • Spermatozoa / physiology*
  • Xanthines / chemistry*
  • Young Adult


  • Antioxidants
  • Cryoprotective Agents
  • Plant Extracts
  • Polyphenols
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Xanthines
  • methylxanthine
  • Nitric Oxide