doi:10.1038/nindia.2013.173 Published online 24 December 2013
Researchers have made a sensor that can measure fructose levels in human semen, an indicator of seminal vesicle function which plays a vital role in male fertility. The sensor could thus be useful for detecting infertility in men.
Seminal vesicles contribute 60 per cent of the fluids passed from the human male during ejaculation. The fluids secreted by seminal vesicles contain sugar fructose, proteins, citric acid, potassium and prostaglandins. Fructose is the main energy source for sperm outside the body. Existing methods for detecting fructose involve complex steps.
To devise a simple and low-cost technique for measuring fructose, the researchers fabricated the sensor using gold nanoparticles and organic compounds. They exposed it to various concentrations of fructose.
The sensor could detect fructose down to a concentration of 0.3 mg/ml. It exhibited excellent selectivity to fructose over a collection of sugars. The sensor successfully detected fructose in actual semen samples. This method can be performed at home as a preliminary self-screening test by patients suspected of being infertile. In addition to providing privacy, this technique is superior to existing methods for semen fructose detection in that it does not require expensive chemicals or sophisticated instruments.
The researchers say that this sensor will be very useful in third-world countries where most people do not have access to high-tech diagnostic aids for testing fertility.