New studies uncover probiotics' influence on sperm quality, say researchers

By Nikki Cutler

- Last updated on GMT

Getty | Sashkinw
Getty | Sashkinw
Recent studies revealing a probiotic's ability to manage male sub-fertility with co-existing chronic pain and obesity, will significantly boost scientific interest in probiotics for infertility treatment, researchers revealed during the recent Probiota conference.

Researchers from Aalborg University (Aalborg, Denmark) and Bifodan (Hundested, Denmark) carried out three studies into how probiotics effect chronic pain, obesity and male sub-fertility and presented their findings during Probiota in Copenhagen.

Their results suggest that oral supplementation of the Bifodan strain Lactobacillus rhamnosus​ BIFOLAC PB01 has the potential to improve male fertility potential as well as manage weight and nociception (the sensory nervous system's response to certain stimuli).

Lead researcher Fereshteh Dardmeh, postdoctoral fellow at Aalborg University, Faculty of Medicine, told NutraIngredients, this is the first time a probiotic has been found to have a positive influence on sperm quality in cases of these coexisting conditions.

“The novelty of the study is finding that probiotics can affect fertility potential by improving sperm motility and decreasing the level of sperm DNA fragmentation especially in cases of coexisting chronic pain and obesity.

“It was previously demonstrated that obesity influences both fertility potential and pain sensitivity. Our study assessed this triangular connection and found that management of obesity and chronic pain using probiotic supplementation can improve male fertility potential.

“We believe that the identification of this potential will significantly boost scientific interest in probiotics in the field of infertility management and treatment."

Susanne Baekgaard, VP marketing at Bifodan, told NutraIngredients: “The outcome of this particular study with respect to improvement of male fertility is extremely interesting. Conception can be considered part of the first 1000 days of human life, and as was discussed during the Probiota conference, it is now acknowledged that the development of the microbiota during this period is critical for lifetime health – so indeed very exciting.”

Fertility potential

Dardmeh says further research into the effect of probiotics on chronic pain and male fertility potential in humans is currently being carried out with results expected to be announced later this year.

She says: “Further studies on the possible modulating effect of probiotics on reproductive hormones as another influencing factor on sperm quality, are also required to provide a deeper insight into the underlying mechanisms of the potential effect of probiotics on sperm quality.”

Erik Brandsborg, chief scientific officer at Bifodan A/S, adds: “Working with Dr. Dardmeh and her team at the University of Aalborg on ‘The Disregarded Triangle’ has opened new and exciting opportunities for research with our probiotic strains. We are proud to partner with Aalborg University and look forward to moving into human clinical trials with our BIFOLAC probiotic strain in this partnership.”

Dardmeh adds: "A collaboration between academia and the industry, for instance, the 'Probiotic Research Initiative' between Aalborg University and Bifodan is very valuable and will help not only to significantly boost the scientific knowledge but to also further move probiotics from bench to bedside.”

The studies

The animal phase was performed on normal weight and diet-induced obesity (DIO) male mice models, randomly divided into two equal sub-groups receiving a single daily dose (1x109​ CFU) of L. rhamnosus ​BIFOLAC PB01 or physiological saline with the same diet for four weeks.

Sensitivity to mechanical stimulation was assessed by an electronic Von Frey device every two weeks and correlated to sperm concentration, motility, and kinematic parameters.

The result suggested that the probiotic strain can decrease pain sensitivity and increase sperm fertility potential in obese and lean mice.

In the human study, sperm concentration, motility, and kinematic parameters, DNA fragmentation and morphology were assessed by the SCA (Microptic S.L., Barcelona, Spain) computer-aided semen analysis (CASA) and correlated to pressure pain thresholds (PPT).

Collectively, the results demonstrated the negative effect of chronic pain and obesity on the male fertility potential.

Source: Pain Research and Management

“Potential Nociceptive Regulatory Effect of Probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus PB01 (DSM 14870) on Mechanical Sensitivity in Diet-Induced Obesity Model”

“Effects of Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain on Fertility Potential in Lean and Overweight Male Patients”

Public Library of Science

"Lactobacillus rhamnosus PB01 (DSM 14870) supplementation affects markers of sperm kinematic parameters in a diet-induced obesity mice model"

Authors: Dardmeh. F., et al

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