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The study aimed to examine the relationships between calcium, magnesium, and calcium/magnesium ratio in semen plasma and sperm quality. It was a cross-sectional study based on a program aiming at promoting the reproductive health in less-developed areas. A total of 515 men aged between 18 and 55 years provided semen specimens at family planning clinics in Sandu County, Guizhou Province, China. Total calcium and magnesium concentrations in semen plasma were measured with flame atomic absorption spectrometry. Sperm quality, including sperm motility and concentration, was evaluated by using a computer-assisted sperm analysis method. The medians of seminal plasma calcium, magnesium, and zinc concentrations were 9.61, 4.41, and 2.23 mmol/l, respectively. Calcium concentration and calcium/magnesium ratio were negatively associated with sperm concentrations (β = -0.47, P = 0.0123 for calcium; β = -0.25, P = 0.0393 for calcium/magnesium ratio) after adjusting for zinc and other covariates. In stratified analyses, the association between calcium and sperm concentrations only persisted among subjects with a calcium/magnesium ratio of ≤2.5 (β = -0.71, P = 0.0268). In the same stratum, magnesium was associated with increased sperm concentration (β = 0.73, P = 0.0386). Among subjects with a calcium/magnesium ratio of >2.5, neither calcium nor magnesium was associated with sperm concentration. In conclusion, total calcium and magnesium concentrations were associated with sperm concentration among subjects with a lower calcium/magnesium ratio. The calcium and magnesium ratio had a modifying effect on the associations of calcium and magnesium with sperm concentration.
Obesity is a complex metabolic disease that is a serious detriment to both children and adult health, which induces a variety of diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, hypertension and cancer. Although adverse effects of obesity on female reproduction or oocyte development have been well recognized, its harmfulness to male fertility is still unclear because of reported conflicting results. The aim of this study was to determine whether diet-induced obesity impairs male fertility and furthermore to uncover its underlying mechanisms. Thus, male C57BL/6 mice fed a high-fat diet (HFD) for 10 weeks served as a model of diet-induced obesity. The results clearly show that the percentage of sperm motility and progressive motility significantly decreased, whereas the proportion of teratozoospermia dramatically increased in HFD mice compared to those in normal diet fed controls. Besides, the sperm acrosome reaction fell accompanied by a decline in testosterone level and an increase in estradiol level in the HFD group. This alteration of sperm function parameters strongly indicated that the fertility of HFD mice was indeed impaired, which was also validated by a low pregnancy rate in their mated normal female. Moreover, testicular morphological analyses revealed that seminiferous epithelia were severely atrophic, and cell adhesions between spermatogenic cells and Sertoli cells were loosely arranged in HFD mice. Meanwhile, the integrity of the blood-testis barrier was severely interrupted consistent with declines in the tight junction related proteins, occludin, ZO-1 and androgen receptor, but instead endocytic vesicle-associated protein, clathrin rose. Taken together, obesity can impair male fertility through declines in the sperm function parameters, sex hormone level, whereas during spermatogenesis damage to the blood-testis barrier (BTB) integrity may be one of the crucial underlying factors accounting for this change.
TCDD (2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin, commonly known as dioxin) is a ubiquitous environmental contaminant and known endocrine disruptor. Using a mouse model, we previously found that adult female mice exposed in utero to TCDD (F1 generation) as well as multiple subsequent generations (F2-F4) exhibited reduced fertility and an increased incidence of spontaneous preterm birth. Additional studies revealed that male F1 mice with a similar in utero/developmental TCDD exposure also exhibited diminished fertility and conferred an increased risk of preterm birth to their unexposed mating partners. Herein, we extend these previous observations, reporting that reduced fertility in male F1 mice is linked to testicular inflammation which coincides with apoptosis of developing spermatocytes, sub-fertility and an increased risk of preterm birth in their unexposed mating partners. Significantly, in the absence of additional toxicant exposure, testicular inflammation and reduced fertility persisted in F2 and F3 males and their control mating partners also frequently exhibited spontaneous preterm birth. Although a steady, global decline in male fertility has been noted over the last few decades, the reasons for these changes have not been firmly established. Likewise, the PTB rate in the U.S. and other countries has paralleled industrial development, suggesting a possible relationship between environmental toxicant exposure and adverse pregnancy outcomes. Most current clinical strategies to prevent preterm birth are focused solely on the mother and have yielded limited benefits. In contrast, our studies strongly suggest that the preconception testicular health of the father is a critical determinant of pregnancy outcomes in mice. Future clinical studies should examine the potential contribution of the male to gestation length in women and whether efforts to reduce the incidence of preterm birth should be initiated in both parents prior to pregnancy.
Environmental exposures affect gamete function and fertility, but the mechanisms are poorly understood. Here, we show that pheromones sensed by ciliated neurons in the Caenorhabditis elegans nose alter the lipid microenvironment within the oviduct, thereby affecting sperm motility. In favorable environments, pheromone-responsive sensory neurons secrete a transforming growth factor-β ligand called DAF-7, which acts as a neuroendocrine factor that stimulates prostaglandin-endoperoxide synthase [cyclooxygenase (Cox)]-independent prostaglandin synthesis in the ovary. Oocytes secrete F-class prostaglandins that guide sperm toward them. These prostaglandins are also synthesized in Cox knockout mice, raising the possibility that similar mechanisms exist in other animals. Our data indicate that environmental cues perceived by the female nervous system affect sperm function.
Copyright © 2014, American Association for the Advancement of Science.
During germ cell and preimplantation development, mammalian cells undergo nearly complete reprogramming of DNA methylation patterns. We profiled the methylomes of human and chimp sperm as a basis for comparison to methylation patterns of ESCs. Although the majority of promoters escape methylation in both ESCs and sperm, the corresponding hypomethylated regions show substantial structural differences. Repeat elements are heavily methylated in both germ and somatic cells; however, retrotransposons from several subfamilies evade methylation more effectively during male germ cell development, whereas other subfamilies show the opposite trend. Comparing methylomes of human and chimp sperm revealed a subset of differentially methylated promoters and strikingly divergent methylation in retrotransposon subfamilies, with an evolutionary impact that is apparent in the underlying genomic sequence. Thus, the features that determine DNA methylation patterns differ between male germ cells and somatic cells, and elements of these features have diverged between humans and chimpanzees.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
A Disintegrin And Metalloprotease (ADAM) family members expressed in male reproductive tissues are divided phylogenetically into three major groups. In the present study, we analyzed six ADAMs in one of the groups (ADAMs 4, 6, 24, 26, 29, and 30) of which function is largely unknown. Our results showed that most of the ADAMs undergo unique processing during sperm maturation and are located at the surface of sperm head. We found that the levels of ADAM4 and ADAM6 are dramatically reduced in Adam2 and Adam3 knockout sperm defective in various fertilization processes. We observed premature processing of ADAM4 in the Adam3-null mice. Furthermore, we obtained a result showing complex formation of ADAM6 with ADAM2 and ADAM3 in testis. Taken together, these results disclose involvement of ADAM4 and ADAM6 in a reproductive ADAM system that functions in fertilization.
Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug. Although there is some indication that reproductive functions in males are impaired in chronic marijuana users, the genetic evidence and underlying causes remain largely unknown. Herein we show that genetic loss of Faah, which encodes fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), results in elevated levels of anandamide, an endocannabinoid, in the male reproductive system, leading to compromised fertilizing capacity of sperm. This defect is rescued by superimposing deletion of cannabinoid receptor 1 (Cnr1). Retention of Faah(-/-) sperm on the egg zona pellucida provides evidence that the capacity of sperm to penetrate the zona barrier is hampered by elevated anandamide levels. Collectively, the results show that aberrant endocannabinoid signaling via CNR1 impairs normal sperm function. Besides unveiling a new regulatory mechanism of sperm function, this study has clinical significance in male fertility.
To determine the mechanisms of spermatogenesis, it is essential to identify and characterize germ cell-specific genes. Here we describe a protein encoded by a novel germ cell-specific gene, Mm.290718/ZFP541, identified from the mouse spermatocyte UniGene library. The protein contains specific motifs and domains potentially involved in DNA binding and chromatin reorganization. An antibody against Mm.290718/ZFP541 revealed the existence of the protein in testicular spermatogenic cells (159 kDa) but not testicular and mature sperm. Immunostaining analysis of cells at various stages of spermatogenesis consistently showed that the protein is present in spermatocytes and round spermatids only. Transfection assays and immunofluorescence studies indicate that the protein is localized specifically in the nucleus. Proteomic analyses performed to explore the functional characteristics of Mm.290718/ZFP541 showed that the protein forms a unique complex. Other major components of the complex included histone deacetylase 1 (HDAC1) and heat-shock protein A2. Disappearance of Mm.290718/ZFP541 was highly correlated with hyperacetylation in spermatids during spermatogenesis, and specific domains of the protein were involved in the regulation of interactions and nuclear localization of HDAC1. Furthermore, we found that premature hyperacetylation, induced by an HDAC inhibitor, is associated with an alteration in the integrity of Mm.290718/ZFP541 in spermatogenic cells. Our results collectively suggest that the Mm.290718/ZFP541 complex is implicated in chromatin remodeling during spermatogenesis, and we provide further information on the previously unknown molecular mechanism. Consequently, we re-designate Mm.290718/ZFP541 as "SHIP1" representing spermatogenic cell HDAC-interacting protein 1.
BACKGROUND - The primary regulator of spermatogenesis, a highly ordered and tightly regulated developmental process, is an intrinsic genetic program involving male germ cell-specific genes.
RESULTS - We analyzed the mouse spermatocyte UniGene library containing 2155 gene-oriented transcript clusters. We predict that 11% of these genes are testis-specific and systematically identified 24 authentic genes specifically and abundantly expressed in the testis via in silico and in vitro approaches. Northern blot analysis disclosed various transcript characteristics, such as expression level, size and the presence of isoform. Expression analysis revealed developmentally regulated and stage-specific expression patterns in all of the genes. We further analyzed the genes at the protein and cellular levels. Transfection assays performed using GC-2 cells provided information on the cellular characteristics of the gene products. In addition, antibodies were generated against proteins encoded by some of the genes to facilitate their identification and characterization in spermatogenic cells and sperm. Our data suggest that a number of the gene products are implicated in transcriptional regulation, nuclear integrity, sperm structure and motility, and fertilization. In particular, we found for the first time that Mm.333010, predicted to contain a trypsin-like serine protease domain, is a sperm acrosomal protein.
CONCLUSION - We identify 24 authentic genes with spermatogenic cell-specific expression, and provide comprehensive information about the genes. Our findings establish a new basis for future investigation into molecular mechanisms underlying male reproduction.
A number of a disintegrin and metalloprotease (ADAM) family members are expressed in mammalian male reproductive organs such as testis and epididymis. These reproductive ADAMs are divided phylogenically into three major groups: ADAMs 1, 4, 6, 20, 21, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, and 34 (the first group); ADAMs 2, 3, 5, 27, and 32 (the second group); and ADAMs 7 and 28 (the third group). Previous mouse knockout studies indicate that ADAM1, ADAM2, and ADAM3 have intricate expressional relationships, playing critical roles in fertilization. In the present study, we analyzed processing, biochemical characteristics, localization, and expressional relationship of the previously-unexplored, second-group ADAMs (ADAM5, ADAM27, and ADAM32). We found that all of the three ADAMs are made as precursors in the testis and processed during epididymal maturation, and that ADAM5 and ADAM32, but not ADAM27, are located on the sperm surface. Using sperm from Adam2(-/-) and Adam3(-/-) mice, we found that, among the three ADAMs, the level of ADAM5 is modestly and severely reduced in Adam3 and Adam2 knockout sperm, respectively. Further, we analyzed ADAM7, an epididymis-derived sperm surface ADAM from the separate phylogenetic group, in the knockout sperm. We found that the level of ADAM7 is also significantly reduced in both Adam2 and Adam3-null sperm. Taken together, our results suggest a novel expressional relationship of ADAM5 and ADAM7 with ADAM2 and ADAM3, which play critical roles in fertilization.