Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Epigenetics May Be The Underlying Cause For Male Infertility

Date:
December 13, 2007
Source:
University of Southern California
Summary:
Researchers suggest epigenetics, or the way DNA is processed and expressed, may be the underlying cause for male infertility.

Researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) suggest epigenetics, or the way DNA is processed and expressed, may be the underlying cause for male infertility.

"This is the first report based on our knowledge that a broad epigenetic defect is associated with abnormal semen development," says Rebecca Sokol, M.D., MPH, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. "From our data, it is plausible to speculate that male infertility may be added to the growing list of adulthood diseases that have resulted from fetal origins."

In the United States, about 4 million married couples of child-bearing age are infertile and in approximately 40 percent of the cases, the infertile partner is the man. In most cases, the cause of the male infertility is not known. However, preliminary data suggest that genetics play a role in infertility. Changes in chromosomes and the genetic code have been well documented.

Attention is now focused on epigenetic changes. Epigenetic change, which is defined as in addition to changes in genetic sequence, includes any process that alters gene activity without changing the DNA sequence. Some of these epigenetic changes are inherited from one generation to the next.

The researchers studied semen samples from male members of couples attending an infertility clinic. Using highly specialized molecular biology techniques, the researchers studied the epigenetic state of DNA from each man's sperm. They found that sperm DNA from men with low sperm counts or abnormal sperm had high levels of methylation, which is one of the ways the body regulates gene expression. However, DNA from normal sperm samples showed no abnormalities of methylation.

DNA methylation results from well known biochemical alterations that occur during epigenetic reprogramming, which is a normal physiologic process that occurs during embryonic development.

"Disturbance of epigenetic programming can result in abnormal gene activity or function, even if there is no change in DNA sequence," continues Sokol.

The epigenetic irregularity found in these abnormal sperm samples was present in a high proportion of genes that were studied. The results suggest that the underlying mechanism for these epigenetic changes may be improper erasure of DNA methylation during epigenetic reprogramming of the male germ line.

"If we can identify what causes these changes to the sperm DNA, then we might be able to prevent certain types of male infertility," concludes Sokol. "This is particularly important because recent animal studies have suggested that epigenetics may have broader implications. Exposures to chemicals as a fetus may lead to adult diseases. Perhaps such exposures may be causing the changes in the sperm DNA that we have identified. Studies to uncover a relationship between chemical exposures and alterations in sperm DNA should shed light on this."

"Widespread Epigenetic Abnormalities Suggest a Broad DNA Methylation Erasure Defect in Abnormal Human Sperm," Sahar Houshdaran, Victoria K. Cortessis, Kimberly Siegmund, Allen Yang,Peter W. Laird, Rebecca Z. Sokol. PLoS One. December 12, 2007.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Southern California. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Southern California. "Epigenetics May Be The Underlying Cause For Male Infertility." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 December 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071212202006.htm>.
University of Southern California. (2007, December 13). Epigenetics May Be The Underlying Cause For Male Infertility. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071212202006.htm
University of Southern California. "Epigenetics May Be The Underlying Cause For Male Infertility." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071212202006.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Newsy (Sep. 20, 2014) Sierra Leone is locked down as aid workers and volunteers look for new cases of Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) A study suggest antidepressants can kick in much sooner than previously thought. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins