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Relative Abundance of Lipid Metabolites in Spermatozoa across Three Compartments

Furse, Samuel; Kusinski, Laura C.; Ray, Alison; Glenn-Sansum, Coralie; Williams, Huw; Koulman, Albert; Meek, Claire L.

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Samuel Furse

Laura C. Kusinski

Alison Ray

Coralie Glenn-Sansum

Senior Research Fellow

Albert Koulman

Claire L. Meek


Male fertility, as manifest by the quantity and progressive motility of spermatozoa, is negatively impacted by obesity, dyslipidaemia and metabolic disease. However, the relative distribution of lipids in spermatozoa and the two compartments which supply lipids for spermatogenesis (seminal fluid and blood serum) has not been studied. We hypothesised that altered availability of lipids in blood serum and seminal fluid may affect the lipid composition and progressive motility of sperm. 60 men of age 35 years (median (range 20–45) and BMI 30.4 kg/m2 (24–36.5) under preliminary investigation for subfertility were recruited at an NHS clinic. Men provided samples of serum and semen, subject to strict acceptance criteria, for analysis of spermatozoa count and motility. Blood serum (n = 60), spermatozoa (n = 26) and seminal fluid (n = 60) were frozen for batch lipidomics analysis. Spermatozoa and seminal fluid had comparable lipid composition but showed marked differences with the serum lipidome. Spermatozoa demonstrated high abundance of ceramides, very-long-chain fatty acids (C20-22), and certain phospholipids (sphingomyelins, plasmalogens, phosphatidylethanolamines) with low abundance of phosphatidylcholines, cholesterol and triglycerides. Men with spermatozoa of low progressive motility had evidence of fewer concentration gradients for many lipid species between blood serum and spermatozoa compartments. Spermatozoa are abundant in multiple lipid species which are likely to contribute to key cellular functions. Lipid metabolism shows reduced regulation between compartments in men with spermatozoa with reduced progressive motility.


Furse, S., Kusinski, L. C., Ray, A., Glenn-Sansum, C., Williams, H., Koulman, A., & Meek, C. L. (2022). Relative Abundance of Lipid Metabolites in Spermatozoa across Three Compartments. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 23(19), Article 11655.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 26, 2022
Online Publication Date Oct 1, 2022
Publication Date Oct 1, 2022
Deposit Date Nov 11, 2022
Publicly Available Date Nov 11, 2022
Journal International Journal of Molecular Sciences
Print ISSN 1661-6596
Electronic ISSN 1422-0067
Publisher MDPI
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 23
Issue 19
Article Number 11655
Keywords male infertility; spermatozoa; progressive motility; lipidomics; metabolism; lipid dysfunction; fertility
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information © 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (


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