Metabolism, Aging and Disease

Male Infertility and Gamete Quality

Male infertility

Sperm function

Sperm Mitochondria


Research lines

Unknown origin male infertility

Antisperm antibodies-related infertility

Impact of lifestyle factor on male fertility

Psychological health and male (in)fertility

Sleep disorders and male (in)fertility


This team is committed to clarify several aspects of male infertility, particularly focusing on gamete function. Infertility is already considered a disease by the World Health Organization, affecting nearly 50 million couples worldwide. This disease has a serious impact on the life, health and well-being of infertile couples that commonly suffer from psycho-social distress and financial problems. Although it should be seen as a couple’s problem, it is known that the female and male contribute differently to it, with the male factor contributing to nearly 50% of the cases. However, there are some types of male infertility to which a cause cannot be found (idiopathic/unexplained), in which the molecular aspects underneath are not well understood (e.g: immunological) or even diseases (systemic, psychological) and lifestyle factors (expositions, consumptions) that might be related to male fertility but that have not been fully explored. Therefore, we are highly focused on clarifying this issues with the major aim of contributing to improve fertility rates and reproductive health globally. To do so we wage on a multidisciplinary team (researchers, clinicians, embryologists, psychologists and mathematicians), and in integrated analyses of sperm function, relying on our expertise on the male gamete and bioenergetics. Our experimental approaches include varied techniques such as microscopy, flow cytometry, confocal Raman microspectroscopy, seahorse flux analyzer, genotyping among others. We have also established collaborations with foreign partners, such as CeRA (Centre for Reproductive Medicine and Andrology) in Germany, with the aim to improve our knowledge and the impact of our research. We are also highly involved in outreach activities, participating in several initiatives, such as lectures in high schools, videos, interviews or artistic exhibitions, just to mention a few. Despite our main objectives, in our team we are always welcoming new ideas.

Featured Articles

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Information about journal articles, updated at 05-12-2021, from platform CIÊNCIAVITAE.

Mitochondrial levels determine variability in cell death by modulating apoptotic gene expression

Márquez-Jurado, S.; Díaz-Colunga, J.; Das Neves, R.P.; Martinez-Lorente, A.; Almazán, F.; Guantes, R.; Iborra, F.J., 2018. Nature Communications. 1. 9. 2018. . 10.1038/s41467-017-02787-4 . Nature Communications

Prolonged intracellular accumulation of light-inducible nanoparticles in leukemia cells allows their remote activation

Boto, C.; Quartin, E.; Cai, Y.; Martín-Lorenzo, A.; Cenador, M.B.G.; Pinto, S.; Gupta, R.; et al, 2017. Nature Communications. 8. 2017. . 10.1038/ncomms15204 . Nature Communications

Boron nitride nanotube-mediated stimulation modulates F/G-actin ratio and mechanical properties of human dermal fibroblasts

Ricotti, L.; Das Neves, R.P.; Ciofani, G.; Canale, C.; Nitti, S.; Mattoli, V.; Mazzolai, B.; Ferreira, L.; Menciassi, A., 2014. Journal of Nanoparticle Research. 2. 16. 2014. . 10.1007/s11051-014-2247-z . Journal of Nanoparticle Research

Mitochondrial variability as a source of extrinsic cellular noise

Johnston, I.G.; Gaal, B.; das Neves, R.P.; Enver, T.; Iborra, F.J.; Jones, N.S., 2012. PLoS Computational Biology. 3. 8. 2012. . 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002416 . PLoS Computational Biology

Towards the maturation and characterization of smooth muscle cells derived from human embryonic stem cells

Vazão, H.; das Neves, R.P.; Grãos, M.; Ferreira, L., 2011. PLoS ONE. 3. 6. 2011. . 10.1371/journal.pone.0017771 . PLoS ONE


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Information about journal articles, updated at 05-12-2021, from platform CIÊNCIAVITAE.

Mitochondrial-targeted compounds to assess and improve mitochondrial function in human sperm

Escada-Rebelo, Sara; Cristo, MI; Amaral, Sandra; Ramalho-Santos, João, 2021. Antioxidant and Redox Signaling. 2021. submitted Antioxidant and Redox Signaling

The role of antisperm antibodies on human male reproductive function: an update

Silva, Andreia; Ramalho-Santos, João; Amaral, Sandra, 2021. Reproduction. 2021. submitted Reproduction

Can Antidiabetic Drugs Improve Male Reproductive (Dys)Function Associated with Diabetes?

Tavares, Renata S.; Escada-Rebelo, Sara; Sousa, Maria Inês; Silva, Andreia; Ramalho-Santos, João; Amaral, Sandra, 2019. Current Medicinal Chemistry. 4191 - 4222. 22. 26. 2019. . 10.2174/0929867325666181101111404 . published Current Medicinal Chemistry

Raman micro-spectroscopy analysis of different sperm regions: a species comparison

Amaral, Sandra; Da Costa, Raul; Wübbeling, Frank; Redmann, Klaus; Schlatt, S, 2018. MHR: Basic science of reproductive medicine. 185 - 202. 4. 24. 2018. . 10.1093/molehr/gax071 . published MHR: Basic science of reproductive medicine

Can we induce spermatogenesis in the domestic cat using an in vitro tissue culture approach?

Silva, Andreia; Escada-Rebelo, S.; Amaral, Sandra; Tavares, Renata S.; Schlatt, S; Ramalho-Santos, João; Mota, Paula C, 2018. PLoS ONE. 2. 13. 2018. . 10.1371/journal.pone.0191912 . published PLoS ONE

Spectral features of nuclear DNA in human sperm assessed by Raman Microspectroscopy: Effects of UV-irradiation and hydration

da Costa, Raul; Amaral, Sandra; Redmann, Klaus; Kliesch, S; Schlatt, S., 2018. PloS one. e0207786 - e0207786. 11. 13. 2018. . 10.1371/journal.pone.0207786 . published PloS one

Antidiabetic therapies and male reproductive function: where do we stand? (top dowloaded paper in 2018 on Reproduction Journal)

Tavares, Renata S.; Escada-Rebelo, Sara; Silva, Andreia; Sousa, Maria Inês; Ramalho-Santos, João; Amaral, Sandra, 2017. Reproduction (Cambridge, England). R13 - R37. 1. 155. 2017. . 10.1530/rep-17-0390 . published Reproduction (Cambridge, England)

High glucose levels affect spermatogenesis: an in vitro approach.

Tavares, Renata S.; Portela, J; Sousa, Maria Inês; Mota, Paula C; Ramalho-Santos, João; Amaral, Sandra, 2017. Reproduction, Fertility and Development. 1369 - 1378. 7. 29. 2017. . 10.1071/rd15475 . published Reproduction, Fertility and Development

Mitochondrial Functionality and Chemical Compound Action on Sperm Function

Amaral, Sandra; Tavares, Renata S.; Baptista, Marta; Sousa, Maria Inês; Silva, Andreia; Escada-Rebelo, Sara; Paiva, Carla; Ramalho-Santos, João, 2016. Current Medicinal Chemistry. 3575 - 3606. 31. 23. 2016. . 10.2174/0929867323666160425113518 . published Current Medicinal Chemistry

Spermatogonial stem cell organization in felid testis as revealed by Dolichos biflorus lectin.

Escada-Rebelo, Sara; Silva, Andreia; Amaral, Sandra; Tavares, Renata S.; Paiva, Carla; Schlatt, S; Ramalho-Santos, João; Mota, Paula C, 2016. Andrology. 1159 - 1168. 6. 4. 2016. . 10.1111/andr.12223 . published Andrology

In vitro exposure to the organochlorine p,p'-DDE affects functional human sperm parameters

Tavares, Renata S.; Amaral, Sandra; Paiva, Carla; Baptista, Marta; Ramalho-Santos, João, 2015. Chemosphere. 443 - 446. 120. 2015. . 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2014.08.075 . published Chemosphere

High glucose concentrations per se do not adversely affect human sperm function in vitro

Portela, Joana; Tavares, Renata S.; Mota, Paula C; Ramalho-Santos, João; Amaral, Sandra, 2015. REPRODUCTION. 77 - 84. 1. 150. 2015. . 10.1530/rep-15-0100 . published REPRODUCTION

Concentration-dependent Sildenafil citrate (Viagra) effects on ROS production, energy status, and human sperm function

Sousa, Maria Inês; Amaral, Sandra; Tavares, Renata S.; Paiva, Carla; Ramalho-Santos, João, 2014. Systems Biology in Reproductive Medicine. 72 - 79. 2. 60. 2014. . 10.3109/19396368.2013.867380 . published Systems Biology in Reproductive Medicine

UVB irradiation as a tool to assess ROS-induced damage in human spermatozoa

Amaral, Sandra; Redmann, Klaus; Sanchez, V.; Mallidis, Con; Ramalho-Santos, João; Schlatt, S, 2013. Andrology. 707 - 714. 5. 1. 2013. . 10.1111/j.2047-2927.2013.00098.x . published Andrology

Aging and male reproductive function: a mitochondrial perspective.

Amaral, Sandra; Ramalho-Santos, João, 2013. 181 - 187. S5. 2013. . 10.2741/s365 . published

Mitochondria and mammalian reproduction

Ramalho-Santos, João; Amaral, Sandra, 2013. Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology. 74 - 84. 1-2. 379. 2013. . 10.1016/j.mce.2013.06.005 . published Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology

Aging, Mitochondria and Male Reproductive Function

Amaral, Sandra; Ramalho-Santos, João, 2009. Current Aging Sciencee. 165 - 173. 3. 2. 2009. . 10.2174/1874609810902030165 . published Current Aging Sciencee

Mitochondrial functionality in reproduction: from gonads and gametes to embryos and embryonic stem cells

Ramalho-Santos, João; Varum, Sandra; Amaral, Sandra; Mota, Paula C; Ana Paula Sousa; Amaral, Alexandra, 2009. Human Reproduction Update. 553 - 572. 5. 15. 2009. . 10.1093/humupd/dmp016 . published Human Reproduction Update

Mitochondrial bioenergetics of testicular cells from the domestic cat (Felis catus)- A model for endangered species

Mota, Paula C; Amaral, Sandra; Martins, Luís; de Lourdes Pereira, Maria; Oliveira, Paulo; Ramalho-Santos, João, 2009. Reproductive Toxicology. 111 - 116. 2. 27. 2009. . 10.1016/j.reprotox.2009.01.008 . published Reproductive Toxicology

Testicular mitochondrial alterations in untreated streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats

Amaral, Sandra; Mota, Paula C; Lacerda, Beatriz; Alves, Marco; Pereira, Maria de Lourdes; Oliveira, Paulo; Ramalho-Santos, João, 2009. Mitochondrion. 41 - 50. 1. 9. 2009. . 10.1016/j.mito.2008.11.005 . published Mitochondrion

Testicular aging involves mitochondrial dysfunction as well as an increase in UCP2 levels and proton leak

Amaral, Sandra; Mota, Paula C; Rodrigues, Ana Sofia; Martins, Luís; Oliveira, Paulo; Ramalho-Santos, João, 2008. FEBS Letters. 4191 - 4196. 30. 582. 2008. . 10.1016/j.febslet.2008.11.020 . published FEBS Letters

Diabetes and the Impairment of Reproductive Function: Possible Role of Mitochondria and Reactive Oxygen Species

Ramalho-Santos, João; Amaral, Sandra; Oliveira, Paulo, 2008. Current Diabetes Reviews. 46 - 54. 1. 4. 2008. . 10.2174/157339908783502398 . published Current Diabetes Reviews

Effects of hyperglycemia on sperm and testicular cells of Goto-Kakizaki and streptozotocin-treated rat models for diabetes

Amaral, Sandra; Moreno, António J.; Santos, Maria Sancha; Seiça, Raquel; Ramalho-Santos, João, 2006. Theriogenology. 2056 - 2067. 9. 66. 2006. . 10.1016/j.theriogenology.2006.06.006 . published Theriogenology




Travel grant of the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation for outstanding young scientists (6th Workshop on Molecular Andrology, Giessen, Germany, September 2019)


Grant by the “Burrows Welcome Foundation” in order to apply to Frontiers in Reproduction Symposium (June 2015)


Grant by the “Burrows Welcome Foundation” in order to apply to Frontiers in Reproduction Summer course (May 2010)


Travel grant for the “15th European testis workshop" (2nd - 6th May 2008, Naantali, Finland


Grant - 12th International/11th European Congress of Andrology (ICA/ECA) (Virtual edition 5th-9th December 2020; from Münster, Germany)


Travel grant for the 6th International Workshop on Molecular Andrology (24th -26th September, 2019; Giessen, Germany)

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