• Interleukin 6;
  • interleukin 1β;
  • cytokines;
  • human reproduction;
  • male infertility;
  • immunological infertility

PROBLEM: The potential value of assessment of cytokine concentrations for the diagnosis of certain pathological conditions of male reproduction has not been fully evaluated.

METHOD: The concentrations of interleukin 6 (IL-6, pg/mL), its soluble receptor (IL-6 sR, ng/mL), and of interleukin 1β (IL-1β, pg/mL) have been measured in semen samples of 114 men and 12 corresponding blood sera.

RESULTS: The concentration of IL-6 was unrelated to that of its receptor. Both IL-6 and IL-6 sR were higher in the first (mean: 69 and 31 resp.) than in the second fraction (39 and 13) of split ejaculates, and were within normal limits in vasectomised men. The Interleukin Iβ concentration presented a strong positive correlated with that of IL-6 (r=0.74, P<0.001). The concentrations of IL-6 and IL-1β were unrelated to sperm concentration, motility and morphology, and they were within normal limits in immunological cases. Both IL-6 and IL-1β were higher (P<0.01) in cases with accessory gland inflammation.

CONCLUSIONS: Measurement of in particular IL-6 in semen may contribute to the diagnosis of inflammatory disease of the accessory sex glands (positive predictive value = 98%, sensitivity = 72%, specificity = 94%), but it is not relevant for the diagnosis of immunological disease.