Spermatogenesis in Hodgkin's lymphoma patients: A retrospective study of semen quality before and after different chemotherapy regimens

D. Paoli, F. Rizzo, G. Fiore, F. Pallotti, A. Pulsoni, G. Annechini, F. Lombardo, A. Lenzi, L. Gandini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


STUDY QUESTION Is spermatogenesis impairment caused by Hodgkin's lymphoma (HL) itself or by the various treatments? SUMMARY ANSWER HL is not itself the main cause of impaired spermatogenesis, which is instead affected by the treatment; the extent of impairment depends on the type of treatment and the number of cycles. WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY Data in the literature are contradictory, although most studies found poor semen quality in HL patients prior to treatment. The impact of therapy on spermatogenesis depends on the type of treatment, but the time needed to recover testicular function following treatment with chemotherapeutic agents inducing azoospermia is unknown. STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION In a retrospective study, the semen parameters of 519 patients (504 with sperm and 15 who were azoospermic) were investigated. HL patients were analysed before therapy. A longitudinal study was also conducted of semen quality in 202 patients pre- and post-ABVD (doxorubicin, bleomycin, vinblastine and dacarbazine) at T0 (baseline) and 6 (T6), 12 (T12) and 24 (T24) months after the end of treatment, and of 42 patients pre- and post-BEACOPP (bleomycin, etoposide, doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide, vincristine, procarbazine, prednisone), COPP/ABVD (cyclophosphamide, vincristine, procarbazine, prednisone, doxorubicin, bleomycin, vinblastine and dacarbazine), OPP/ABVD (vincristine, procarbazine, prednisone, doxorubicin, bleomycin, vinblastine and dacarbazine) or MOPP (mechlorethamine, vincristine, procarbazine and prednisone) and inguinal radiotherapy at different observation times (from T0 to 16 years after treatment). PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS Semen parameters were examined according to World Health Organization 2010 criteria, evaluating sperm concentration, total sperm number, progressive motility and morphology. MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE Our data, which pertain to the largest caseload reported to date, indicate that 75% of HL patients are normozoospermic prior to treatment. The results from the HL patients studied pre- and post-therapy demonstrate that spermatogenesis recovery depends on the therapeutic regimen used. After ABVD, there was a statistically significant decrease in sperm concentration and total sperm number at T6 and T12 (P <0.001; P <0.01, respectively). There was a significant drop in progressive motility (P <0.001) and a significant increase in abnormal forms (P <0.01) at T6. The differences in sperm concentration, total sperm number and abnormal forms at T0 and T24 were not statistically significant, indicating that sperm quality had returned to pre-therapy values. The most interesting data in terms of patient management arise from the study of azoospermia induced by other chemotherapeutic agents. A high number of BEACOPP, COPP/ABVD, OPP/ABVD or MOPP cycles (≥6) induced a permanent absence of sperm in the seminal fluid, while even following a low number of cycles (

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-272
Number of pages10
JournalHuman Reproduction
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 24 2015


  • ABVD protocol
  • BEACOPP protocol
  • Chemotherapy
  • Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Semen quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Reproductive Medicine


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