Relationship between chromatin condensation, DNA integrity and quality of ejaculated spermatozoa from infertile men.Andrologia. 2012 Jun; 44(3):187-99.A
Normal chromatin condensation is important for sperm fertilising ability. However, routine semen analysis does not identify defects in sperm chromatin structure. This study aimed to investigate the condensation of chromatin and DNA integrity in spermatozoa of infertile men and deduce the relationship with sperm quality, as measured by conventional semen parameters. Semen analysis was carried out to assess sperm quality according to World Health Organization criteria. The remaining aliquot of each sample was processed for transmission electron microscopy, chromomycin A3 (CMA3) and terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labelling (TUNEL) assays. The ultrastructural analysis of spermatozoa from infertile men showed heterogeneity in sperm nuclear morphology. Some spermatozoa displayed a round nucleus with incomplete chromatin condensation. Immunoreactivity with antitransitional protein and antiprotamine antibodies indicated nuclear maturation defects in the spermatozoa of infertile men. Spearman's correlation analysis indicated a positive correlation between the percentages of CMA3- and TUNEL-positive spermatozoa. In addition, these two parameters were negatively correlated with sperm concentration, motility and normal morphology. This study demonstrated that men with morphologically normal spermatozoa of <30% have greater degree of protamine deficiency and DNA damage than men with morphologically normal spermatozoa of >30%. Evaluation of chromatin integrity appears to be a useful tool for assessing male fertility.