Array-based DNA methylation profiling reveals peripheral blood differential methylation in male infertility

In a genomewide methylation array on peripheral blood DNA from oligo/asthenozoospermic infertile patients and normozoospermic fertile controls, we found 329 differentially methylated CpG spots that correlate with infertility.

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Volume 112, Issue 1, Pages 61–72.e1


Saumya Sarkar, M.Sc., Kumar Mohanty Sujit, M.Sc., Vertika Singh, M.Sc., Rajesh Pandey, Ph.D., Sameer Trivedi, M.Ch., Kiran Singh, Ph.D., Gopal Gupta, Ph.D., Singh Rajender, Ph.D.



To study peripheral blood DNA differential methylation in oligozoospermic infertile men in comparison with normozoospermic fertile controls.


Case-control study.


Reproductive biology laboratory.


Azoospermic and oligozoospermic infertile patients (n = 6) and normozoospermic fertile controls (n = 6) in the discovery phase, and oligo/asthenozoospermic infertile men (n = 11) and normozoospermic fertile controls (n = 10) in the validation phase.


Blood samples drawn from all participants, DNA isolation and methylation analysis.

Main Outcome Measure(s)

DNA methylation values analyzed using genomewide methylation 450K BeadChip array, followed by deep sequencing of selected regions for methylation analysis in the neighborhood regions of differentially methylated CpGs.


We found 329 differentially methylated CpG spots, out of which 245 referred to the genes, representing 170 genes. Deep-sequencing analysis confirmed the methylation pattern suggested by 450K array. A thorough literature search suggested that 38 genes play roles in spermatogenesis (PDHA2, PARP12, FHIT, RPTOR, GSTM1, GSTM5, MAGI2, BCAN, DDB2, KDM4C, AGPAT3, CAMTA1, CCR6, CUX1, DNAH17, ELMO1, FNDC3B, GNRHR, HDAC4, IRS2, LIF, SMAD3, SOD3, TALDO1, TRIM27, GAA, PAX8, RNF39, HLA-C, HLA-DRB6), are testis enriched (NFATC1, NMNAT3, PIAS2, SRPK2, WDR36, WWP2), or show methylation differences between infertile cases and controls (PTPRN2, RPH3AL).


We found a statistically significant correlation between peripheral blood DNA methylation and male infertility, raising the hope that epigenome-based blood markers can be used for screening male infertility risk. The study also identified new candidates for spermatogenesis and fertility.

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Fertility and Sterility

Editorial Office, American Society for Reproductive Medicine

Fertility and Sterility® is an international journal for obstetricians, gynecologists, reproductive endocrinologists, urologists, basic scientists and others who treat and investigate problems of infertility and human reproductive disorders.