This release is available in Spanish.
Barcelona, Spain: Diabetes in men has a direct effect on fertility, a scientist told the 24th annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology today (Wednesday 9 July). Dr. Con Mallidis from Queen's University, Belfast, UK, said that, despite the prevailing view that it had little effect on male reproductive function, the Belfast group had shown that diabetes caused DNA damage in sperm.
The increase in the numbers of diabetics diagnosed at a young age has coincided with worldwide concerns over male fertility, he told the conference. "But this is not simply a coincidence," he said. "We have shown for the first time that diabetes adversely influences male fertility at a molecular level."
The scientists studied semen samples from men with diabetes who were receiving insulin therapy. On initial routine microscopic examination the semen samples appeared normal, apart from a slight decrease in volume.
"But when we looked for DNA damage, we saw a very different picture," said Dr. Mallidis, adding that this is not part of a routine semen analysis. "Sperm RNA was significantly altered, and many of the changes we observed are in RNA transcripts involved in DNA repair. And comparison with a database of men of proven fertility confirmed our findings. Diabetics have a significant decrease in their ability to repair sperm DNA, and once this is damaged it cannot be restored."
Transcription is the synthesis of RNA under the direction of DNA, and is the first step towards gene expression, where the information from the gene becomes a product such as a protein translating the genetic information into a cellular function. If there are errors in transcription, there will also be errors in the function of the gene. "We were particularly interested to see a fourteen-fold decreas
|Contact: Mary Rice|
European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology