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J Exp Zool. 1999 Nov 1;284(6):696-704.

Fertilizing ability of DNA-damaged spermatozoa.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, National University of Singapore, Singapore 119074.


In order to investigate the fertilizing ability of DNA-damaged sperm, they were exposed to gamma radiation prior to insemination. The presence of DNA-strand breaks were detected by the TUNEL test. Fertilization rates of 64.3, 59.9, 58.5, and 61.1% were achieved when sperm were subjected to 5, 10, 50, and 100 GY, respectively. This rate was 53.2% in the control group with no significant difference (P > 0.01). The blastocyst development was decreased from 49.8% in the control group to 20.3, 7.8, 3.4, and 2.3% with sperm exposed to doses of 5, 10, 50, and 100 GY, respectively. Of the transferred blastocyst in the control group, 69.8% were implanted and 33.9% developed into live fetuses. These rates were 57.1 and 21. 4%, 20 and 0% when sperm were exposed to doses of 5 and 10 GY with a significant difference (P < 0.01). The present study clearly shows that DNA-damaged sperm (regardless of degree of damage) have the ability to fertilize the oocyte, but that embryonic development is very much related to the degree of DNA damage. However, the oocyte has the capacity to repair DNA damage of sperm when it is damaged less than 8%. Damage beyond this level will result in low rate of embryonic development and high early pregnancy loss. J. Exp. Zool. 284:696-704, 1999.

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