Sperm DNA methylation of H19 imprinted gene and male infertility

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Infertility affects up to 15% of reproductive-aged couples worldwide, with male factor being detected in 40%–50% of the cases. Proper sperm production is associated with the establishment of appropriate epigenetic marks in developing germ cells. Several studies have demonstrated the association between abnormal spermatogenesis and epigenetic disturbances with the major focus on DNA methylation. Imprinted genes are expressed in a parent-of-origin-specific manner, and the role of their DNA methylation in proper spermatogenesis has been documented recently. The existing evidence along with the absence of relevant data in south of Iran prompted us to study the methylation of H19 imprinted gene in spermatozoa of idiopathic infertile patients (males with abnormalities in sperm parameters) and healthy controls by Combined Bisulfite Restriction Analysis. According to our results, the lowest methylation percentage of H19 imprinted gene belongs to three cases with sperm characteristics under normal range (two cases Oligoasthenoteratozoospermia and one case Oligoteratozoospermia). However, our results show that the median of methylation percentage for H19 is not statistically significant between case and control groups. Our results and those of others introduce DNA methylation as a potential marker of fertility and should be investigated with more patients in future studies.

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