Background: Surgery is considered the primary treatment for male infertility from clinical varicocele. One of the main events associated with varicocele is excessive production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC), an antioxidant that scavenges free radicals, is considered a supplement to alleviate glutathione (GSH) depletionduring oxidative stress. Despite beneficial effects of NAC in other pathological events,there is no report on the effect of NAC in individuals with varicocele. Therefore, the aimof this study is to evaluate the outcome of NAC on semen quality, protamine content,DNA damage, oxidative stress and fertility following varicocelectomy.
Materials and Methods: This prospective clinical trial included 35 infertile men with varicocele randomly divided into control (n=20) and NAC (n=15) groups. We assessed semen parameters, protamine content [chromomycin A3 (CMA3)], DNA integrity [terminaldeoxynucleotidyltransferase-mediated dUTP nick-end labeling (TUNEL)] and oxidativestress [2′, 7′-dichlorodihydrofluorescein-diacetate (DCFH-DA)] before and three months after varicocelectomy.
Results: Percentage of abnormal semen parameters, protamine deficiency, DNA fragmentation and oxidative stress were significantly decreased in both groups compared to before surgery. We calculated the percentage of improvement in these parameters compared to before surgery for each group, then compared the results between the groups.Only percentage of protamine deficiency and DNA fragmentation significantly differed between the NAC and control groups.
Conclusion: The results of this study, for the first time, revealed that NAC improved chromatin integrity and pregnancy rate when administered as adjunct therapy post-varicocelectomy (Registeration Number: IRCT201508177223N5).
Keywords: DNA Fragmentation, Protamines, Oxidative Stress, Varicocele, NAC