In vitro isoflavone supplementation reduces hydrogen peroxide-induced DNA damage in sperm

J. Sierens, J.A. Hartley, Marion Campbell, Claire Leathem, Jayne Woodside

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Citations (Scopus)


Isoflavones are plant compounds, proposed to have health benefits in a variety of human diseases, including coronary heart disease and endocrine-responsive cancers. Their physiological effects include possible antioxidant activity, therefore suggesting a role for isoflavones in the prevention of male infertility. The aim of this study was to test the antioxidant effects of the isoflavones genistein and equol on sperm DNA integrity, assessed in vitro after hydrogen peroxide-mediated damage, using the cornet assay. Pre-treatment with genistein or equol at doses of 0.01-100 mumol/l significantly protected sperm DNA against oxidative damage. Both ascorbic acid (10-600 mumol/l) and alpha-tocopherol (1-100 mumol/l) also protected. Compared with ascorbic acid and alpha-tocopherol, added at physiological concentrations, genistein was the most potent antioxidant, followed by equol, ascorbic acid, and alpha-tocopherol. Genistein and equol added in combination were more protective than when added singly. Based on these preliminary data, which are similar to those observed previously in lymphocytes, these compounds may have a role to play in antioxidant protection against male infertility.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-234
Number of pages8
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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