Sperm motility and progressivity are two of the main parameters influencing fertility in mammals. Reduction in the motility and progressivity of spermatozoids has been shown to be a direct cause of male infertility in different mammalian species. Especially in human fertility clinics and the commercial animal breeding industry sperm quality is of crucial importance for successful insemination. The currently applied methods to conserve sperm during the time between ejaculation and insemination reduce sperm quality and as a result the success rate of insemination significantly. Hence there is an urgent need to identify compounds increasing the fecundation rate and therefore the productivity of industries depending on semen quality.
Scientists of the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics showed that glycolic acid enhances sperm motility and progressivity significantly by 10 to 40%. This effect persists for at least 90 minutes and was tested on human (fresh and frozen), bull (frozen) and mouse (fresh) sperm. Glycolic acid could either be administered topically or systemically and is efficacious on mature or epididymal sperm.
Local application is the most straightforward application method and ensures the reduction of possible side effects. It also reduces the tests and costs demanded by the regulatory institutions to access the market. The application of 60 mM glycolic acid on the skin did not have any adverse effects. Glycolic acid is a stable compound as a powder or as a solution kept at 4°C. It degrades very slowly in solution when kept at room temperature and in the dark. It can be obtained from different natural sources (e.g. plants and different fruits) and is cheap to obtain.