Effects of Ivermectin therapy on the sperm functions of Nigerian onchocerciasis patients

Idonije O.Ba., Asika E.Cb., Ok


The effect of ivermectin, a broad spectrum antihelminthic on the sperm functions of animal models have been extensively studied, however data on humans are very scanty hence this present study. In this study we screened a total of 385 patients who were diagnosed of onchocerciasis. Out of which, 37 (9.6%) were eligible for further tests, as their sperm counts were normal while the remaining patients had very low sperm counts and were therefore not used for further tests or were too weak after the preliminary screening tests and were not considered eligible for further test/studies. We therefore investigated the effects of ivermectin therapy on the sperm functions of these eligible 37 diagnosed patients of onchocerciasis who were of ages between 28 and 57 years. The sperm functions were assessed via seminal fluid analysis using standard procedure and the following parameters were measured: sperm counts, sperm motility, sperm morphology, sperm volume, sperm viscosity and sperm liquefaction time. The above parameters were measured before and after the patients were treated with 150μg/kg body wt of ivermectin for eleven months and the results were compared and also with normal control reference range. We observed significant reduction in the sperm counts and sperm motility of the patients tested. On the morphology there was significant increase in the number of abnormal sperm cells. This took the forms of two heads, double tails, white (albino) sperms and extraordinarily large heads. It is suspected that the above alterations in the already determined parameters of the patients’ sperm cells could only have occurred as a result of their treatment with ivermectin. However, we could not record any significant change or alteration in the sperm viscosity, sperm volume, and sperm liquefaction time of the patients. We therefore suggest that caution be seriously exercised in the treatment of male onchocerciasis patients with ivermectin to avoid the adverse effects it has on the patients’ sperm functions.  

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