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Telomere length in sperm does not determine male fertility


Research carried out by Eugin clinic concludes that the length of the ends of chromosomes is not a relevant biomarker of sperm quality in normozoospermic men

La longitud de los telómeros del esperma no condiciona la fertilidad masculina

Telomeres – the nucleoprotein structures located at the ends of chromosomes – are the subject of numerous studies that evaluate their importance in cellular processes such as ageing, cancer or fertility.

In the case of fertility, the telomere length of sperm cells has been proposed as a possible biomarker of semen quality, since its variations are associated with altered sperm parameters, an increase in DNA fragmentation, poor quality embryos and, ultimately, to lower pregnancy rates. However, a study conducted in Eugin clinic’s laboratory, a leader in the assisted reproduction field, has served to question this hypothesis.

Eugin’s researchers, in the largest study to date in which about 700 treatments were analysed, have concluded that the length of sperm telomeres in the development of the embryo does not have a statistically significant effect (p> 0.05) on the quality of the embryo or on the rates of clinical and ongoing pregnancies and live births. In short: on the success of assisted reproduction techniques.

According to one of the authors, Marc Torra-Massana, the relevance of the Eugin study is that, unlike previous studies, “we have separated telomere length factor from other variables that determine the results of the assisted reproduction technique in a couple related to the woman’s characteristics”. “This has been possible because, instead of analysing cycles involving the gametes of the two members of the couple, the male gamete came from a sperm donor,” explains Dr. Montserrat Barragán, co-author of the study and head of the basic research laboratory that Eugin has in the University of Barcelona Scientific Park (PCB).

Nonetheless, Barragán points out that the study should continue to be expanded with samples with different diagnoses, since in this study only samples from normozoospermic men with optimal sperm quality have been used.

ASEBIR Congress

The results of the study, which was carried out in Eugin’s laboratory at the University of Barcelona Scientific Park, were presented at the IX ASEBIR Congress (Association for the Study of Reproductive Biology), which was held in Madrid from November 15 to 17. More than 500 health professionals, from Spain and abroad attended this meeting, where they presented, discussed and analysed the latest advances in Embryology, Genetics, Andrology and Cryobiology.

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