The measurement of Zinc (Zn) in semen is used to investigate male infertility as well as to evaluate prostate gland function.
Poor semen quality can be the result of either the production of abnormal spermatozoa from the testes, or damage to the spermatozoa as they travel through the testes, the epididymis, or abnormal secretions from the accessory glands of the genital system. Accessory gland secretions can be measured to assess the function of these glands, e.g. citric acid, zinc, and acid phosphatase for the prostate, fructose, and prostaglandins for the seminal vesicles, L-Carnitine and neutral alpha-glucosidase for the epididymis.
Urogenital tract infections can sometimes cause a decrease in the secretion of these markers, but the total measured value may remain within the normal range. An infection can also cause irreversible damage to the secretory epithelium so that even after treatment, the secretory capacity remains low.
Prostate secretory capacity. The amount of zinc, citric acid, and acid phosphatase in the semen are a reliable measure of the secretory capacity of the prostate.
Trace elements play an important role in male reproductive capacity due to their high activity at the molecular level, although they are present in the body in very small quantities. Zinc (Zn) is the second most abundant micronutrient in human tissues, after iron. Although zinc is found in most foods such as red and white meat, fish, and milk, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that one-third of the world's population is deficient in zinc. Zinc and citric acid are excreted by the prostate as a low molecular weight complex and therefore, zinc levels in seminal plasma typically represent the prostatic secretory function. After ejaculation, half of the amount of this complex is redistributed and bound to medium and high molecular weight compounds produced by the seminal vesicles.
Decreased zinc concentration in semen may be the result of insufficient intake, decreased absorption, increased loss, or increased demand. The most common cause is insufficient intake as a result of a diet low in zinc or very rich in phytic acids. In addition, increased urinary zinc losses may occur under conditions of intense muscle catabolism, such as sepsis or iatrogenic after prolonged use of certain medications. The abrupt reduction of zinc in the prostatic fluid results in a decrease in its concentration in seminal plasma.
During reproduction, zinc has many important functions and is essential for the conception, implantation, and normal outcome of pregnancy. Zinc is normally found in high concentrations in semen and has a multifaceted role in the functional properties of semen:
- Affects the fluidity of lipids and therefore the stability of biological membranes
- Affects spermatozoa chromatin stability
- Participates in the formation of reactive oxygen species
- It plays a regulatory role in the acrosome reaction
- It seems to play a role in the ability of spermatozoa to penetrate the cervical mucus
- It seems to play a role in the key factors of semen quality (motility, concentration, morphology)
Many studies show that the level of zinc in the semen of infertile men is significantly lower than normal. Taking the right zinc supplements can significantly increase the semen quality of infertile men.
The results of laboratory tests are the most important parameter for the diagnosis and monitoring of all pathological conditions. 70-80% of diagnostic decisions are based on laboratory tests. The correct interpretation of laboratory results allows the doctor to distinguish "health" from "disease".
The results of laboratory tests should not be interpreted as the numerical result of an individual analysis. Test results should be interpreted in relation to individual and family history, clinical findings, and the results of other laboratory tests and information. Your GP can explain the importance of your test results.
At Diagnostiki Athinon we answer your every question regarding the examinations you do in our laboratory and we contact your doctor in order to have the best possible medical care.