Relationships between age of 25K men attending infertility clinics and SCSA defined sperm DNA and chromatin integrity

Sperm DNA fragmentation increases with age (20 80 years) in infertility patients at about the same rate as in healthy men without reproductive issues.

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VOLUME 114, ISSUE 2, P311-320

Authors:

Donald P. Evenson, Ph.D., Gemechis Djira, Ph.D., Kay Kasperson, B.S., Jennifer Christianson, A.A.S.

Abstract:

Objective

To determine relationships between age of men with potential male factor infertility and sperm chromatin structure assay (SCSA) measures of sperm DNA fragmentation (SDF) and high DNA stainable sperm (HDS), and to compare these data with those obtained from healthy donor men without reproductive issues.

Design

Retrospective study.

Setting

Infertility clinics and diagnostic laboratory.

Patients

A total of 25,445 men attending infertility clinics. Donors were 87 men working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Intervention

None.

Main Outcome Measures

SCSA measures (% DNA fragmentation index (DFI), X DFI, SD DFI, and %HDS) of men aged 21−80 years.

Results

In the study population, advancing paternal age was associated with increased sperm DNA fragmentation (SDF) scored as increased percentage of sperm in semen ejaculates with measurable DNA strand breaks (%DFI). The slope of increase in %DFI prior to age 41.6 years was 0.39, which increased after age 41.6 to more than double at a slope of 0.86. These changes in DNA/chromatin in more than 25,000 aging men attending infertility clinics are similar to those seen over the same age span (20−80 years) in 87 nonpatient, healthy men without reproductive issues. For the age group 20−50 years, there was no major significant difference in %DFI between patients and donor men. According to a logistic regression model, the estimated probability is that, for example, a 40-year-old and a 50-year-old man have a 20% and 40% chance, respectively, to have a pathological DFI ≥25% by age factor alone. The condensation of sperm chromatin in patients increased with age in a linear fashion, from a mean of 12.2 %HDS at age 20−25 to a mean of 7.9 %HDS at age 60−65. Patients had a greater %HDS than donors across all ages.

Conclusions

The great heterogeneity of both DFI and HDS values at a specific age prevents the automatic translation of age into an index of DNA fragmentation. However, it reinforces the idea that both DFI and HDS evaluation can play a role in detecting potential male infertility in cases that are not resolved by routine testing and in cases of multiple miscarriages. DFI and HDS data can help clinicians to predict a man’s fertility potential, to consider corrective therapeutic approaches, as well as to assess the risk to the offspring’s health.

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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. The journal publishes juried original scientific articles in clinical and laboratory research relevant to reproductive endocrinology, urology, andrology, physiology, immunology, genetics, contraception, and menopause. Fertility and Sterility® encourages and supports meaningful basic and clinical research, and facilitates and promotes excellence in professional education, in the field of reproductive medicine.

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