A prevalent cause of sperm dysfunction in male infertility patients is the overproduction of reactive oxygen species, an attendant increase in lipid peroxidation and the production of cytotoxic reactive carbonyl species such as 4-hydroxynonenal. Our previous studies have implicated arachidonate 15-lipoxygenase (ALOX15) in the production of 4-hydroxynonenal in developing germ cells. Here, we have aimed to develop a further mechanistic understanding of the lipoxygenase-lipid peroxidation pathway in human spermatozoa. Through pharmacological inhibition studies, we identified a protective role for phospholipase enzymes in the liberation of peroxidised polyunsaturated fatty acids from the human sperm membrane. Our results also revealed that arachidonic acid, linoleic acid and docosahexanoic acid are key polyunsaturated fatty acid substrates for ALOX15. Upon examination of ALOX15 in the spermatozoa of infertile patients compared to their normozoospermic counterparts, we observed significantly elevated levels of ALOX15 protein abundance in the infertile population and an increase in 4-hydroxynonenal adducts. Collectively, these data confirm the involvement of ALOX15 in the oxidative stress cascade of human spermatozoa and support the notion that increased ALOX15 abundance in sperm cells may accentuate membrane lipid peroxidation and cellular dysfunction, ultimately contributing to male infertility.
- male infertility
- lipid peroxidation