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Hum Reprod. 1998 Dec;13(12):3332-7.

Y chromosome deletions in azoospermic and severely oligozoospermic men undergoing intracytoplasmic sperm injection after testicular sperm extraction.

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Infertility Center of St Louis, St Luke's Hospital, MO 63017, USA.


Y chromosome deletions encompassing the AZFc region have been reported in 13% of azoospermic men and 7% of severely oligozoospermic men. We examined the impact of these Y deletions on the severity of testicular defects in 51 azoospermic men undergoing intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) after testicular sperm extraction (TESE) and 30 men with severe oligozoospermia undergoing ICSI after ejaculation of spermatozoa. In addition, five azoospermic patients shown previously to have Y chromosome deletions underwent histological evaluation of their previously obtained testis biopsy specimens. A further 27 azoospermic men underwent TESE-ICSI, but not Y chromosome DNA testing. Ten of 51 azoospermic men (20%) who underwent TESE-ICSI and Y-DNA testing were found to be deleted for portions of the Y chromosome AZFc region. Of these 10, five had spermatozoa retrievable from the testis, and in two cases the wives became pregnant. Of the 41 azoospermic men with no Y chromosome deletion, 22 (54%) had spermatozoa retrievable from the testis, and in 12 cases (29%) the wives became pregnant. Four of 30 (13%) severely oligozoospermic patients were found to be deleted for AZFc and in three (75%) of these pregnancy was achieved. The other 26 severely oligozoospermic couples who had no AZFc deletions underwent ICSI, and 12 (46%) have an ongoing or delivered pregnancy. The embryo implantation rate was not significantly different for azoospermic (22%), oligozoospermic (16%), Y-deleted (14%) or Y-intact (18%) men. Of the total of 19 infertile men who had Y chromosome deletions, 14 had deletions within Y chromosome intervals 6D-6F, in the AZFc region. Twelve of those 14 had some spermatozoa (however few in number) in the ejaculate or testis. Five of the Y-deleted men had deletions that extended more proximally on the Y chromosome, and in none of these could any spermatozoa be observed in either ejaculate or testis. These results support the concept that, in azoospermic or oligozoospermic men with Y chromosome deletions limited to intervals 6D-6F (AZFc), there are generally very small numbers of testicular or ejaculated spermatozoa. Larger Y deletions, including and extending beyond the AZFc region and encompassing more Y genes, tend to be associated with a total absence of testicular spermatozoa. In those cases where spermatozoa were retrieved, the presence of Y deletions had no obvious impact on fertilization or pregnancy rate.

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