Pantoprazole, a proton-pump inhibitor, impairs human sperm motility and capacitation in vitro

Jessica Escoffier, Bastien Arnaud, Mayis Kaba, Jean Pascal Hograindleur, Emilie Le Blévec, Guillaume Martinez, Isabelle Stévant, Pierre F. Ray, Christophe Arnoult, Serge Nef

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: The effects of PPIs on human sperm fertilizing capacity were poorly investigated although these drugs are widely over-used. Two publications retrospectively studied relationships between any PPI intake and sperm parameters from patients consulting at infertility clinics, but the conclusions of these reports were contradictory. Only two reports investigated the effects of lansoprazole and omeprazole on sperm motility and found lansoprazole to be deleterious and omeprazole to be neutral for sperm motility. The inconsistency of the PPI effect in the previous reports emphasizes the need for more basic research on human spermatozoa, taking into account the hypothesis that the different PPI drugs may have different effects on sperm physiology. Objectives: Do PPIs, which are among the most widely sold drug in the word, impact negatively human sperm capacitation and sperm motility?. Materials and methods: The effects of PPIs on human sperm maturation and motility were analyzed by CASA, flow cytometry, and Western blot. Results: We tested the impact of 6 different PPIs on human sperm motility and capacitation. We showed that pantoprazole, but not the other PPIs, decreased sperm progressive motility and capacitation-induced sperm hyperactivation. We therefore investigated further the effects of pantoprazole on sperm capacitation, and we observed that it had a significant deleterious effect on the capacitation-induced hyperpolarization of the membrane potential and capacitation-associated protein phosphorylation. Discussion and Conclusion: Our results indicate that exposure to pantoprazole has an adverse effect on the physiological competence of human spermatozoa. As the capacitation process takes place within the female tract, our results suggest that PPIs intake by the female partner may impair in vivo sperm maturation and possibly fertilization. Moreover, the absence of adverse effect by PPIs on mouse sperm emphasizes the need to develop reprotox assays using human material to better assess the effects of medication intake on sperm physiology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1795-1804
Number of pages10
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 American Society of Andrology and European Academy of Andrology


This work was supported by the Foundation of the Swiss Centre for Applied Human Toxicology—SCAHT (to SN). J Escoffier is now supported by INSERM.

FundersFunder number
Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale
Swiss Centre for Applied Human Toxicology


    • capacitation
    • fertility
    • flow cytometry
    • human spermatozoa
    • proton-pump inhibitor


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