Multiparameter Flow Cytometry Assay for Analysis of Nitrosative Stress Status in Human Spermatozoa

Male infertility is an increasing health problem, and oxidative/nitrosative stress plays an important role in the etiology of this condition. Nitrosative stress due to excessive levels of reactive nitrogen species (RNS) is associated with impaired male fertility. Flow cytometry may be a useful tool for semen evaluation, but the availability of multiparameter assays for analysis of sperm quality is limited. The present study standardized a multiparameter flow cytometry analysis for nitrosative stress status in human spermatozoa in a single assay. A suitable multicolor fluorochrome panel was designed and consisted of fluorescein-boronate to detect peroxynitrite, a highly RNS, propidium iodide to analyze viability, tetramethylrhodamine methyl ester perchlorate to detect mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) and monobromobimane to analyze thiol oxidation. Proper positive and negative controls for each fluorochrome were used to establish the technique, and sperm cells of different qualities and spermatozoa subjected to cryopreservation were analyzed. The results showed that the controls clearly discriminated between the high and low fluorescence intensities for each fluorochrome. The analysis of sperm cells of different quality demonstrated that the assay properly detected differences in all parameters analyzed according to sperm quality. The results may be reported as the mean fluorescence intensity of each fluorochrome and the percentage of cells exhibiting different characteristics. In conclusion, a protocol was standardized to analyze nitrosative stress status, including peroxynitrite production, viability, MMP, and thiol oxidation, in a single analysis using flow cytometry. This protocol may be applied to research approaches and clinical andrology to improve the evaluation of sperm quality and provide a promising tool to increase the use of clinical flow cytometry. (c) 2020 International Society for Advancement of Cytometry

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