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J Androl. 2007 Jan-Feb;28(1):194-9. Epub 2006 Sep 20.

Cryptorchidism and semen quality: a TEM and molecular study.

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Department of General Surgery, Biology Section, University of Siena, Policlinico S Maria alle Scotte, 53100 Siena, Italy.


Cryptorchidism is a pathological condition defined as the failure of the testis to descend into the scrotum, the location of the cryptorchid testis can be in the inguinal canal or in the prescrotal and abdominal area, sometimes resulting in atrophic seminiferous tubules. The aim of this study was to analyze semen quality of men who underwent orchidopexy for unilateral or bilateral cryptorchidism during childhood. Semen quality was investigated by light microscopy to evaluate sperm concentration and motility. Sperm morphology was performed by transmission electron microscope (TEM), and the data were mathematically elaborated. The presence of Y microdeletions was investigated by polymerase chain reaction. The effect of cryptorchidism on meiosis was explored by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). The incidence of azoospermia was higher in the group with bilateral compared with unilateral cryptorchidism, and semen parameters were better in the unilateral group. Sperm pathologies detected by TEM indicated a severe deterioration of sperm quality in both groups. Necrosis and apoptosis appeared to be the most frequent pathologies, and their values reached statistical significance compared with those from fertile controls. The presence of chromosome Y microdeletions in patients with cryptorchidism and severe spermatogenetic defects is controversial. No microdeletions were found in this study. FISH values indicated that the mean percentage of gonosome disomies and diploidies were generally out of normal range, indicating a severe disturbance of meiotic segregation. The effects induced by cryptorchidism resolved in childhood seem to include a spermatogenetic impairment, leading to recommendation of detailed ultrastructural and chromosomal sperm analyses before undertaking assisted reproductive techniques.

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