Ключові слова: cytokines, male infertility, idiopathic infertility, rheumatoid arthritis


The mechanisms of formation of male infertility are increasingly becoming immune-dependent. Immunological isolation of the testes is provided by the anatomical blood-testis barrier and the special tolerance of the immune system to antigens expressed on male gametes. For a better understanding of the immunopathogenetic mechanisms of infertility, a study of the role of various immune factors is required.

The aim: to study the role of pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines in blood serum to clarify their role in spermatogenesis.

Materials and Methods: 45 infertile men aged 22-48 were examined. They were divided into 2 groups: first group – 22 men with a systemic autoimmune disease - rheumatoid arthritis; second group – 23 somatically healthy patients with idiopathic infertility. The control group included 27 fertile healthy men aged 22-48 years. Determination of the cytokines concentration in blood serum was carried out by the immunoenzymatic method. Student's t-test was used to compare the significant difference in mean values between groups. P < 0.05 was considered significant.

Results. Patients with autoimmune diseases (rheumatoid arthritis) had the highest rate of leukocytospermia, indicating a possible long-term inflammatory process. In patients with idiopathic infertility, oligozoospermia was diagnosed in 3 patients (13.04%), oligoasthenozoospermia in 7 patients (30.36%), asthenozoospermia in 8 patients (34.78%) and leucocytospermia in 5 patients (21.82%). In patients with rheumatoid arthritis, the concentration of IL-18 (cytokine of the IL-1 family) in the blood serum of infertile men was 1.36 times higher than that of fertile men. The level of IL-6 was 6 times higher, and the concentration of IFN-γ exceeded the norm by more than three times. The level of IL-10 was 9,4 times higher than in control group. Significant changes in the serum cytokine profile were recorded in men with idiopathic infertility. The level of pro-inflammatory cytokines increased statistically significantly: IL-18 – 1.45 times, IL-6 – 2.85 times, IFN-γ – 2.65 times. Simultaneously, the level of anti-inflammatory cytokines increased: IL-10 – 3.0 times.

We also analyzed the ratio of serum levels of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines. Significant increase in ІL-10/TNF-α ratio was recorded in men with idiopathic infertility and infertile men with rheumatoid arthritis. Specifically, in men with idiopathic infertility the ІL-10/TNF-α ratio was 3.3 times higher and in patients with rheumatoid arthritis the ІL-10/TNF-α ratio was 4.1 times higher than in control group. In patients with rheumatoid arthritis the ІL-10/ІFN-γ ratio was in 3 times higher than in control group. Significant positive correlations were found in healthy fertile men: TGF-β1 – IFN-γ, IL-10 – IL-18 and IL-10 – TNF-α. In men of the control group, the synthesis of IL-18 and TNF-α was balanced by the production of IL-10. The synthesis of IFN-γ was by balanced by the production of TGF-β1.

Conclusions. The development of infertility associated with various accompanying pathologies is related with by changes in both systemic and local immune reactivity. The pro-inflammatory cytokine profile of blood serum and a decrease in the concentration of IL-1β are observed in patients with idiopathic infertility. The largest number of deviations of immune reactivity was found in infertile men with concomitant autoimmune diseases.

Оригінальні дослідження