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What are the effects of vitamin C on sperm functional properties during direct swim-up procedure?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 March 2019

Georges Raad*
Azoury IVF Clinic, Mount Lebanon Hospital, Camille Chamoun Bvd, Beirut, Lebanon
Joyce Mansour
Institut National de Pathologie (INP), Baabda, Lebanon
Rim Ibrahim
Azoury IVF Clinic, Mount Lebanon Hospital, Camille Chamoun Bvd, Beirut, Lebanon
Jessica Azoury
Azoury IVF Clinic, Mount Lebanon Hospital, Camille Chamoun Bvd, Beirut, Lebanon
Joan Azoury
OB-GYN Department, Inova Fairfax Hospital, Falls Church, Virginia, USA
Youmna Mourad
Al-Hadi Laboratory and Medical Center, Beirut, Lebanon
Chadi Fakih
Al-Hadi Laboratory and Medical Center, Beirut, Lebanon
Joseph Azoury
Azoury IVF Clinic, Mount Lebanon Hospital, Camille Chamoun Bvd, Beirut, Lebanon
*Address for correspondence: Georges Raad. Azoury IVF clinic, Mount Lebanon Hospital, Camille Chamoun Bvd, Beirut, Lebanon. Tel: +961 71 666306. E-mail:


Direct swim-up procedure is widely used to separate the motile competent spermatozoa from the antioxidant-rich semen. Subsequently, spermatozoa become more vulnerable to reactive oxygen species (ROS) due to their cytological characteristics. The effect of vitamin C, a highly concentrated antioxidant in the semen, on direct swim-up-enriched sperm population is not fully investigated. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to assess the effect of vitamin C on sperm functional properties during direct swim-up procedure. Semen samples were collected from 22 participants. Each semen sample was divided into several aliquots. The first portion was overlaid with sperm medium without ascorbic acid (0 µM AA). The second and third fractions were overlaid with sperm medium supplemented with 300 µM and 600 µM AA; respectively. After 1 h of incubation, basic sperm parameters, intracellular ROS levels, acrosome reaction, chromatin integrity, and glucose uptake were assessed. Swim-up without AA significantly increased the percentage of ROS(+) spermatozoa compared with the raw semen (P<0.01). Interestingly, swim-up with 300 µM AA did not increase the percentage of ROS(+) sperm compared with the raw semen. In parallel, the percentage of sperm with altered chromatin integrity was significantly lower in the 300 µM AA group compared with that in the raw semen (P<0.05). These findings suggest that supplementation of vitamin C to sperm medium could be beneficial for direct swim-up-derived spermatozoa.

Research Article
© Cambridge University Press 2019 

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