Table of Contents
Advances in Andrology
Volume 2014, Article ID 626374, 15 pages
Review Article

The Enzymatic Antioxidant System of Human Spermatozoa

1The Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada H3H 2R9
2Departments of Surgery (Urology Division), McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada H3G 1A4
3Obstetrics and Gynecology, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada H3A 1A1
4Pharmacology and Therapeutics, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada H3G 1Y6
5Urology Research Laboratory, Royal Victoria Hospital, Room H6.46, 687 Avenue des Pins Ouest, Montreal, QC, Canada H3A 1A1

Received 25 February 2014; Accepted 19 June 2014; Published 10 July 2014

Academic Editor: Mónica Hebe Vazquez-Levin

Copyright © 2014 Cristian O’Flaherty. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The ejaculated spermatozoon, as an aerobic cell, must fight against toxic levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) generated by its own metabolism but also by other sources such as abnormal spermatozoa, chemicals and toxicants, or the presence of leukocytes in semen. Mammalian spermatozoa are extremely sensitive to oxidative stress, a condition occurring when there is a net increase in ROS levels within the cell. Opportunely, this specialized cell has a battery of antioxidant enzymes (superoxide dismutase, peroxiredoxins, thioredoxins, thioredoxins reductases, and glutathione s-transferases) working in concert to assure normal sperm function. Any impairment of the antioxidant enzymatic activities will promote severe oxidative damage which is observed as plasma membrane lipid peroxidation, oxidation of structural proteins and enzymes, and oxidation of DNA bases that lead to abnormal sperm function. Altogether, these damages occurring in spermatozoa are associated with male infertility. The present review contains a description of the enzymatic antioxidant system of the human spermatozoon and a reevaluation of the role of its different components and highlights the necessity of sufficient supply of reducing agents (NADPH and reduced glutathione) to guarantee normal sperm function.