PROBLEM: The objective of this study was to evaluate the possible relevance of cytokines in seminal plasma (SP) of patients with accessory gland infection and oligo-terato-asthenozoospermia.
METHOD OF STUDY: Semen samples were obtained by masturbation from 90 men and were examined for the presence of interleukin (IL)-2, IL-6, IL-8, IL-11 and soluble CD23 (sCD23) by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Five groups were included: (1) fertile men (n=20), (2) infertile men with varicocele and oligo-terato-asthenozoospermia (V-OTA, n=20), (3) infertile men with genital infection and OTA (INF-OTA, n=20), (4) infertile men with idiopathic testicular lesion and OTA (ITL-OTA, n=20) and (5) infertile men with azoospermia (AZOO, n=10). RESULTS: We found that the mean level of IL-2 was higher in SP from infertile men compared with SP from fertile men (P < 0.05). Mean levels of IL-6, IL-8, IL-11 in SP of INF-OTA were higher than that of all other groups (P < 0.05, P < 0.05, P < 0.001, respectively). However, no significant differences could be detected between other groups. A significant increase was noted in sCD23 levels in SP from men with ITL-OTA compared with all other groups (P < 0.01). We have not observed any correlations between IL-2, IL-6, IL-8, IL-11 and sCD23 levels in SP and semen parameters. Spearman's correlation coefficient revealed that there was a significant association between IL-6, IL-8, IL-11 levels in men with INF-OTA.
CONCLUSION: The measurement of each cytokine separately in the SP of men with INF-OTA, in spite of the existing significant differences, does not have a diagnostic value in male infertility. However, a combined determination of IL-6, IL-8, IL-11 in the SP of men with genital infection and oligo-terato-asthenozoospermia may provide clinically useful information for the diagnosis of male accessory gland infection.