Impact of seminal and serum zinc on semen quality and hormonal status: A population-based cohort study of Russian young men

J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2021 Dec:68:126855. doi: 10.1016/j.jtemb.2021.126855. Epub 2021 Sep 7.


Background: Trace elements are important factors in human reproductive health. Among them, special attention is paid to zinc, which is an essential trace element and is necessary for the normal functioning of the male reproductive system and the process of spermatogenesis. The aim of the study was to investigate the association between seminal and serum zinc concentrations and semen quality and reproductive hormone levels in population of Russian young men.

Methods: The study population consisted of 626 young Russian men (median age 22.5 years), recruited from the general population, regardless of their fertility status. Each participant provided semen and blood sample, information about his lifestyle and ethnicity. Semen quality (sperm concentration, motility and morphology), reproductive hormone levels (testosterone, estradiol, LH, FSH and inhibin B), and serum and seminal zinc concentrations were evaluated. The semen samples were analyzed according to the WHO laboratory manual (WHO, 2010). Serum hormones were measured by enzyme immunoassay, zinc concentrations were determined using spectrophotometry and direct colorimetry without deproteinization.

Results: Zinc was present in the seminal plasma in a significantly higher concentration than in the blood serum (median serum Zn concentration was 23.6 μmol/L vs seminal Zn concentration 1571.8 μmol/L). The seminal zinc concentration was positively related to the total sperm count, sperm concentration, progressive motility and normal morphology (Spearman's test: 0.221; 0.286; 0.269; 0.183, respectively, p < 0.001), while the serum Zn concentration was negatively related to serum testosterone and estradiol levels (r = -0.249 and r = -0.096, respectively, p < 0.001-0.05). It was found that the seminal Zn content in men with normal semen quality was higher compared to men with lowered semen quality (means: 6.37 and 5.03 μmol/ejaculate, respectively, p < 0.001). Similarly, the semen volume, total sperm count, sperm concentration, progressive motility, normal morphology and the serum testosterone level in men with the seminal Zn deficiency were lower than in men with the normal seminal Zn content.

Conclusion: Based on the results of our population-based study, seminal Zn levels were closely associated with semen parameters in young men, so Zn deficiency may be an important risk factor for lowered semen quality. Seminal Zn determinations should be considered as a useful tool in addition to other parameters in assessing male fertility.

Keywords: Blood serum; Reproductive hormones; Semen quality; Seminal plasma; Zinc.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Estradiol
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Semen
  • Semen Analysis*
  • Sperm Motility
  • Testosterone
  • Trace Elements*
  • Young Adult
  • Zinc


  • Trace Elements
  • Testosterone
  • Estradiol
  • Zinc