A novel functional role of nickel in sperm motility and eukaryotic cell growth

Jiang Bian, Xiaohong Shi, Qin Li, Miaoyun Zhao, Lingyun Wang, Jaekwon Lee, Minfang Tao, Xiaobin Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Background: Metal ions are essential for numerous life processes. This study aims to investigate the relationship between seminal quality and ion levels in seminal plasma. Basic procedures: A total of 205 semen samples were collected and seminal plasma ion levels were examined with inductively-coupled plasma-mass spectrometry. The nickel function was demonstrated by in vitro assay and cell growth. Main findings: The low sperm motility group showed distinctively reduced nickel concentration in seminal plasma compared with the normal sperm motility group. However, arsenic, sulfur, selenium, magnesium and zinc were negatively associated with sperm quality. No significant relationship between other examined cations and semen quality was observed. In vitro assay suggested low concentration of nickel significantly increased sperm total motility and progressive motility. Cell growth assay further confirmed nickel promoted eukaryotic yeast cell growth. Nickel level in seminal plasma may play important functions to determine sperm quality. Principal conclusions: Our study reveals a strong correlation between S, Mg, Se, Zn, As, Ni and seminal quality as well as discovers a novel functional role of nickel in sperm motility and eukaryotic cell growth. These findings may provide a potential avenue for assessment of sperm quality and treatment of reproduction disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)142-149
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology
StatePublished - Jul 2019


  • Cell growth
  • Nickel
  • Seminal plasma
  • Sperm

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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