Pharmacological inhibition of arachidonate 15-lipoxygenase protects human spermatozoa against oxidative stress

Jessica L.H. Walters, Geoffry N. De Iuliis, Matthew D. Dun, Robert John Aitken, Eileen A. McLaughlin, Brett Nixon, Elizabeth G. Bromfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


One of the leading causes of male infertility is defective sperm function, a pathology that commonly arises from oxidative stress in the germline. Lipid peroxidation events in the sperm plasma membrane result in the generation of cytotoxic aldehydes such as 4-hydroxynonenal (4HNE), which accentuate the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and cause cellular damage. One of the key enzymes involved in the metabolism of polyunsaturated fatty acids to 4HNE in somatic cells is arachidonate 15-lipoxygenase (ALOX15). Although ALOX15 has yet to be characterized in human spermatozoa, our previous studies have revealed a strong link between ALOX15 activity and the levels of oxidative stress and 4HNE in mouse germ cell models. In view of these data, we sought to assess the function of ALOX15 in mature human spermatozoa and determine whether the pharmacological inhibition of this enzyme could influence the level of oxidative stress experienced by these cells. By driving oxidative stress in vitro with exogenous H 2 O 2 , our data reveal that 6,11-dihydro[1]benzothiopyrano[4,3-b]indole (PD146176; a selective ALOX15 inhibitor) was able to significantly reduce several deleterious, oxidative insults in spermatozoa. Indeed, PD146176 attenuated the production of ROS, as well as membrane lipid peroxidation and 4HNE production in human spermatozoa. Accordingly, ALOX15 inhibition also protected the functional competence of these cells to acrosome react and bind homologous human zonae pellucidae. Together, these results implicate ALOX15 in the propagation of oxidative stress cascades within human spermatozoa and offer insight into potential therapeutic avenues to address male in fertility that arises from oxidative stress.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)784-794
Number of pages11
JournalBiology of Reproduction
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes


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