Blood and seminal plasma mercury levels and predatory fish intake in relation to low semen quality

Chin En Ai, Ching Jen Li, Ming Chien Tsou, Jun Lin Chen, Hsing Cheng Hsi, Ling Chu Chien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Declining human sperm quality has been demonstrated in several recent studies. Age, environmental factors, and nutritional factors can affect semen quality. Mercury (Hg) is considered a male reproductive toxicant. Animal studies indicated that exposure to Hg can cause DNA damage, sperm dysfunction, and decreased sperm motility. Some previous studies also revealed that blood Hg levels in infertile or subfertile males were higher than those in normal males. In this study, we recruited 84 male participants from a reproductive medical center and investigated the Hg, lead, and selenium levels in blood and seminal plasma. Participants were divided into two groups, low- and high-quality semen groups, according to the World Health Organization reference values for human semen characteristics. The distribution of blood reproductive hormones and information on participants’ lifestyle and medical history were collected from structured questionnaires. Average Hg levels in blood were 9.3±5.9 versus 8.9±5.9 and in seminal plasma were 1.26±0.61 versus 1.05±0.52 μg/L in the low- and high-quality semen groups, respectively. There was a dose-dependent relationship between blood Hg levels and normal sperm morphology (p=0.02). Participants with predatory fish intake and high blood Hg level had lower sperm with a normal morphology. Therefore, predatory fish intake may be a critical risk factor for elevated Hg levels in males and cause low semen quality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19425-19433
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Mercury
  • Predatory fish
  • Semen quality
  • Sperm morphology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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