Circulating Zinc and Copper Levels are Associated with Sperm Quality in Obese Men after Metabolic Surgery: A Pilot Study

Nutrients. 2020 Oct 30;12(11):3354. doi: 10.3390/nu12113354.


(1) Background: Inadequate levels of several trace elements and vitamins may impair spermatogenesis in men. Although weight loss after metabolic surgery normalizes male reproductive hormones, sperm quality seems to not improve. We hypothesized that circulating concentrations of zinc, copper and other trace elements and vitamins might be involved. (2) Methods: We studied 20 men submitted to metabolic surgery at baseline and after two years. Hormone profiles, serum trace elements and vitamins were studied together with sperm analysis. (3) Results: At follow-up, serum testosterone, follicle-stimulating hormone and inhibin B concentrations increased showing a beneficial hormonal response for spermatogenesis. Conversely, serum copper, zinc and ferritin showed a decline after surgery. In total, 33% of men showed zinc deficiency, 27% copper deficiency and 20% iron deficiency, among others. Sperm analysis showed that all revaluated patients had at least one abnormal parameter. Serum zinc concentrations showed a positive correlation with progressive motility (r = 0.577, p = 0.031), and serum ferritin a positive correlation with sperm volume (ρ = 0.535, p = 0.049). Serum copper showed a weak and near significant correlation with motility (r = 0.115, p = 0.051). (4) Conclusions: The lack of improvement in sperm quality in obese men after metabolic surgery may be related to nutrient malabsorption, especially zinc, copper and iron.

Keywords: copper; iron; male fertility; metabolic surgery; sperm; zinc.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bariatric Surgery
  • Copper / blood*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / blood*
  • Obesity / surgery*
  • Spermatozoa / physiology*
  • Trace Elements / blood
  • Vitamins / blood
  • Zinc / blood*


  • Trace Elements
  • Vitamins
  • Copper
  • Zinc