- The source and significance of DNA damage in human spermatozoa; a commentary on diagnostic strategies and straw man fallacies
- Aitken, R. J.; Bronson, R.; Smith, T. B.; De Iuliis, G. N.
- Molecular Human Reproduction Vol. 19, Issue 8, p. 475-485
- Publisher Link
- Oxford University Press
- Resource Type
- journal article
- This article considers the origins of DNA damage in human spermatozoa, the methods that are available to monitor this aspect of semen quality and the clinical significance of such measurements. DNA damage in spermatozoa appears to be largely oxidative in nature, inversely correlated with levels of nuclear protamination and frequently associated with the activation of a truncated apoptotic pathway. DNA base adducts formed as a result of oxidative attack are released from the spermatozoa into the extracellular space through the action of a glycosylase, OGG1. This creates an abasic site, which is not resolved until fertilization because spermatozoa do not possess the molecular machinery needed to continue the base excision repair pathway. The abasic sites so generated in human spermatozoa are readily detected by SCSA or the Comet assay; however, no signal is detectable with TUNEL. This is because spermatozoa lack the enzyme (APE1) needed to create the free 3′ hydroxyl groups required by this detection system. Nevertheless, spermatozoa do eventually become TUNEL positive as they enter the perimortem. The American Society of Reproductive Medicine Practice Committee has suggested that DNA damage in spermatozoa should not be assessed because the correlation with pregnancy is inconsistent across independent studies. However, this is a straw man argument. The reason why such assays should be undertaken is not just that they reflect the underlying quality of spermatogenesis but, more importantly, that the DNA damage they reveal may have detrimental effects on the developmental normality of the embryo and the health of possible future children.
- sperm; DNA damage; oxidative stress; IVF
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