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Reprod Sci. 2013 Jun;20(6):622-30. doi: 10.1177/1933719112459232. Epub 2012 Nov 8.

One-carbon metabolism, spermatogenesis, and male infertility.

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Department of Molecular and Human Genetics, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India.


Balanced diet is the natural source of micronutrients, such as folate and vitamins, vital for proper functioning of the body. One-carbon metabolic pathway along with folate and other vitamins plays an important role in DNA synthesis and in the establishment of epigenetic modifications like DNA/histone methylation. Spermatogenesis involves distinct cellular, genetic, and chromatin changes during the course of production of male gamete sperm. Folate and normal activity of 1-carbon metabolic pathway enzymes are central to nucleotide synthesis, methylation, and maintenance of genomic integrity as well as protection from DNA damage. As a result, polymorphisms in 1-carbon metabolic pathway genes affecting several physiological processes also have an impact on spermatogenesis and may affect directly or indirectly quality of sperm. Alterations in these processes may be a consequence of additive effect resulting from altered expression of 1-carbon metabolic pathway genes and/or inadequate folate/micronutrients supplementation. The present review provides an overview of different cellular and molecular events regulated by 1-carbon metabolic pathway enzymes and their impact on male reproductive health. It also summarizes the different studies where polymorphisms in the enzymes of 1-carbon metabolic pathway or folate deficiency are associated with male infertility and future prospects.


MTHFR; male infertility; methylation; oxidative damage; spermatogenesis

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