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Indian J Urol. 2008 Apr;24(2):150-4.

Mitochondrial DNA Mutations in etiopathogenesis of male infertility.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To understand role of mitochondrial (mt) mutations in genes regulating oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) in pathogenesis of male infertility. Infertility affects approximately 15% of couples trying to conceive. Infertility is frequently attributed to defects of sperm motility and number. Mitochondrion and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) play an important role in variety of physiological process. They control the oxidative energy supply and thus are central to growth, development and differentiation. Mitochondrial function is controlled by a fine-tuned crosstalk between mtDNA and nuclear DNA (nDNA). As mitochondria supply energy by OXPHOS, any mutation in mtDNA disrupts adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production and thus result in an impaired spermatogenesis and impaired flagellar movement. As sperm midpiece has few mtDNA copies, thus enhanced number of mutant mtDNA results in early phenotypic defect which manifest as spermatogenic arrest or asthenozoospermia. Oxidative stress and mtDNA mutations are positively correlated and mutations in mitochondrial genome (mt genome) are implicated in the lowered fertilising capacity of the sperm and affects the reproductive potential of an individual.

MATERIALS AND METHODS:

A thorough review of articles in the last 15 years was cited with reference to the below-mentioned keywords. The articles considered discuss the role of mt genome in the normal functioning of sperm and the factors associated with mt mutations and impact of these mutations on the reproductive potential.

RESULTS:

Sperm motility is a very important factor for the fertilisation of ova. The energy requirements of sperm are therefore very critical for sperm. Mutations in the mitochondrial genes as COX II, ATPase 6 and 8 play an important role and disrupts ATP production affecting the spermatogenesis and sperm motility. Therefore, the aberrations in mt genome are an important etiopatholgy of male infertility.

CONCLUSION:

In the context of male infertility, mt mutations, generation of reactive oxygen species and lowered antioxidant capacity are interlinked and constitute a unified pathogenic molecular mechanism. In the era of assisted reproduction technique (ART), it is very important to distinguish between mutations in nuclear and mitochondrial genomes in sperm, as mtDNA mutations are better diagnostic and prognostic markers in infertile men opting for ART.

KEYWORDS:

Assisted reproduction techniques; Mitochondrion and mitochondrial DNA mutations; asthenozoospermia; infertility; mt genome

PMID:
19468388
PMCID:
PMC2684292

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