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Abstract

Purpose. The aim was to evaluate several microbiological tools for the identification of non-gonococcal Neisseria spp. isolated from semen samples from Lebanese men and to determine the putative link between the presence of Neisseria commensal species and infertility.

Methodology. Within a cross-sectional retrospective study design, the whole population included in this investigation was divided in 2 categories: 173 patients with symptoms of infertility and 139 patients with normal seminograms. Epidemiological and microbiological investigations were performed for 59 strains of Neisseria through several phenotypic and genotypic tools, including seminograms, an analytical profile index of Neisseria and Haemophilus (API-NH), matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS), porA PCR, 16S rRNA and rplF gene sequencing, and antimicrobial susceptibility testing.

Results. The risk of Neisseria infection was twice as high in infertile patients compared to the control group [odds ratio (OR): 1.95, confidence interval (CI): 1.05–3.65, P =0.03]. Unreliable diagnosis of Neisseria urogenital infection has serious health and social consequences. Our findings showed that API-NH and 16S rRNA sequencing are poor tools to identify Neisseria at the species level. Therefore, reliable diagnosis of cases using MALDI-TOF MS and/or rplF sequencing is needed to provide critical treatment decisions and prevent antimicrobial resistance spreading in the community.

Conclusion. This work predicted a strong and significant association between the presence of Neisseria spp. in semen and male infertility among the Lebanese population. For a better understanding of this association, it is recommended that more genomic and large-scale epidemiological investigations are undertaken to reach definitive conclusions.

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2019-06-07
2019-09-15
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