AIM: To evaluate the possible influences of HCV infection and relative antiviral treatment on seminal parameters and reproductive hormonal serum levels. METHODS: Ten male patients with HCV-related chronic hepatitis and 16 healthy male volunteers were studied. In all subjects seminal parameters (nemaspermic concentration, progressive motility, morphology) and hormonal levels were determined. Seminal parameters and inhibin B, follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, total and free testosterone, estradiol, prolactine in patients were measured after six and twelve months of antiviral combined (interferon+ribavirin) treatment. RESULTS: Patients before treatment showed a significantly lower nemaspermic motility and morphology as well as lower inhibin B and free testosterone levels than controls. Inhibin B levels in cases were improved six and 12 mo after treatment in five responders (161.9+/-52.8 pg/mL versus 101.7+/-47.0 pg/mL and 143.4+/-46.1 pg/mL versus 95.4+/-55.6 pg/mL, respectively). Hormonal pattern of patients did not significantly change after treatment, with the exception of estradiol levels with an initial reduction and an overall subsequent increment (19.7+/-6.4 pg/mL versus 13.6+/-5.0 pg/mL versus 17.3+/-5.7 pg/mL). However in 1-year responders a significant increment of free testosterone (14.2+/-2.54 pg/mL versus 17.1+/-2.58 pg/mL) occurred. An impairment of nemaspermic morphology occurred, while other seminal parameters did not change significantly during antiviral treatment. CONCLUSION: Patients with HCV infection show worse spermatic parameters than controls, suggesting a possible negative influence of virus on spermatogenesis, with further mild impairment during antiviral treatment. However therapy could improve the spermatic function, as suggested by the increased inhibin B levels and improved hormonal pattern in responders. Further studies are needed to confirm these preliminary intriguing results.
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