Seminal inflammasome activity in the adult varicocele

Mariana Camargo, Emad Ibrahim, Paula Intasqui, Larissa B. Belardin, Mariana P. Antoniassi, Charles M Lynne, Nancy L. Brackett, Ricardo P. Bertolla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Varicocele has been hypothesized to lead to seminal inflammation, which in turn interferes with sperm function. Thus, the aim of this study was to investigate the role of inflammatory cytokines in the pathogenesis of decreased semen quality observed in adult men with varicocele, and to determine if varicocelectomy corrects these potential alterations. A prospective study was carried out including fifteen control men without varicocele and with normal semen quality and 15 men with varicocele with surgical indication. Men with varicocele grades II or III underwent microsurgical subinguinal varicocelectomy. Controls collected one semen sample and men with varicocele collected one before and one 6 months after the surgery. Semen analysis, sperm function, and seminal lipid peroxidation levels were assessed. Seminal plasma inflammasome activity was evaluated by ELISA assays for IL-1β, IL-18 and caspase-1 and by Western blotting for ASC (apoptosis-associated speck-like protein). Groups were compared by an unpaired Student’s T test. Varicocelectomy samples were compared using a paired Student’s T test (α = 5%). Men with varicocele had decreased semen quality, and increased seminal IL-1β levels, when compared to control men. Varicocelectomy decreased levels of caspase-1, IL-18, and IL1β. Thus, varicocelectomy improves sperm morphology and decreases seminal plasma inflammatory activity, after a six-month post-operative period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalHuman Fertility
StateAccepted/In press - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Cytokines
  • sperm DNA
  • varicocelectomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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