To verify a possible synergistic effect of smoking and varicocele on the seminal plasma proteome and biological functions, a cross-sectional study was performed in 25 smokers and 24 nonsmokers. Samples were used for conventional semen analysis, functional analysis (DNA fragmentation, acrosome integrity and mitochondrial activity) and proteomics by a shotgun approach. Functional enrichment of biological pathways was performed in differentially expressed proteins. Smokers presented lower ejaculate volume (p = .027), percentage of progressively motile spermatozoa (p = .002), total sperm count (p = .039), morphology (p = .001) and higher percentage of immotile spermatozoa (p = .03), round cell (p = .045) and neutrophil count (p = .009). Smokers also presented lower mitochondrial activity and acrosome integrity and higher DNA fragmentation. We identified and quantified 421 proteins in seminal plasma, of which one was exclusive, 21 were overexpressed and 70 were underexpressed in the seminal plasma of smokers. The proteins neprilysin, beta-defensin 106A and histone H4A were capable of predicting the smoker group. Enriched functions were related to immune function and sperm machinery in testis/epididymis. Based on our findings, we can conclude that cigarette smoking leads to the establishment of inflammatory protein pathways in the testis/epididymis in the presence of varicocele that seems to act in synergy with the toxic components of the cigarette.© 2020 Blackwell Verlag GmbH.
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