Sperm DNA quality is known to be associated with decreased embryo quality, low embryo implantation rates, higher miscarriage rates, and some serious childhood diseases, in particular some childhood cancers. Over the years possible causes for sperm DNA fragmentation have been suggested but to date the exact mechanism for the damage remains unknown, say the scientists.
"We found a class of compounds known as advanced glycation end products (AGEs) in the male reproductive tract. These are formed as the result of glycation (the addition of sugar)," said Dr. Mallidis, "and accumulate during normal ageing. They are dependent on life style diet, smoking etc and in many diabetic complications are centrally implicated in DNA damage. We believe that they play a similar role in the male reproductive system."
The scientists intend to follow up their work by trying to determine how AGEs cause and contribute to DNA damage. They believe that they may have uncovered a new role for AGEs, and that their influence goes far beyond diabetes and its complications.
"We must now try to develop strategies to protect sperm, and to diminish the accumulation of AGEs," said Dr. Mallidis. Such strategies could involve changes in diet, disrupting a step in the formation of AGEs, or increasing the body's protection against AGEs, possibly through the use of dietary supplements.
"Finally, there is spermatogenesis 20. What does it do, how does it do it, under what circumstances and why? Why is it
|Contact: Mary Rice|
European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology