ESX1 mRNA expression in seminal fluid is an indicator of residual spermatogenesis in non-obstructive azoospermic men

Alessandra Pansa, Silvia M. Sirchia, Sara Melis, Daniela Giacchetta, Mirco Castiglioni, Patrizia Colapietro, Stefano Fiori, Rossella Falcone, Leda Paganini, Eleonora Bonaparte, Giovanni Colpi, Monica Miozzo, Silvia Tabano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

STUDY QUESTION Is the presence of ESX1 mRNA in seminal fluid (SF) an indicator of residual spermatogenesis in men with non-obstructive azoospermic (NOA)? SUMMARY ANSWER ESX1 mRNA in SF is a suitable molecular marker for predicting the presence of residual spermatogenesis in testis. WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY ESX1 is an X-linked homeobox gene whose expression in testis is restricted to germ cells. We previously reported, in the testicular biopsies from azoospermic men, a positive correlation between the presence of ESX1 mRNA and residual spermatogenesis. STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION We investigated ESX1 mRNA expression in 70 testicular fragments (TF) and 56 (SF) of 70 NOA men. As controls, we analyzed 8 TF from men with obstructive azoospermic (OA) and 9 SF from normozoospermic men. For all patients we considered the histological classification of testis biopsies and the recovery of spermatozoa by surgical procedures. PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS Relative ESX1 mRNA expression was evaluated by quantitative RT-PCR using the ΔΔCt method. The results were compared with the recovery of spermatozoa at surgery. MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE In TF from NOA patients we found that: (i) ESX1 mRNA level was significantly decreased as the severity of spermatogenic defects increased (P <0.0001, one-way analysis of variance); (ii) the presence of ESX1 mRNA can predict the success of sperm retrieval (sensitivity: 80%). In SF from NOA patients we found that: (i) ESX1 mRNA was present in 78.5% of NOA men; (ii) the presence of ESX1 mRNA could predict the success of sperm retrieval (sensitivity: 84%). LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION Spermatozoa were recovered at surgery in 5 out of 12 patients whose SF was negative for ESX1 mRNA expression. We think that discrepancies between molecular and clinical results could be reduced by analyzing more than one ejaculate from each man. WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS The data confirm that the ESX1 transcript in the semen of men with NOA is a suitable molecular marker for predicting the presence of residual foci of spermatogenesis in the testis. The implication of these results is that some patients 'with azoospermia', although having a severe impairment of spermatogenesis, could still maintain residual foci of spermatogenesis in limited areas of the testes, not always recovered by surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2620-2627
Number of pages8
JournalHuman Reproduction
Volume29
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 26 2014

Keywords

  • azoospermia
  • ESX1
  • infertility
  • sperm recovery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Medicine(all)

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