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Hum Reprod. 2019 Oct 2;34(10):1891-1898. doi: 10.1093/humrep/dez169.

Detection of chlamydia infection within human testicular biopsies.

Author information

1
School of Biomedical Sciences and Institute of Health & Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, 300 Herston Rd, Herston, QLD 4006, Australia.
2
Monash IVF Group, 89 Bridge Road, Richmond, VIC 3121, Australia.
3
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Monash Medical Centre, Monash University, 246 Clayton Road, Clayton, VIC 3168, Australia.
4
Hudson Institute of Medical Research, Monash Medical Centre, Monash University, 246 Clayton Road, Clayton, VIC 3168, Australia.
5
Men's Health Melbourne, 233 Collins Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000, Australia.
6
Department of Surgery, Western Health, Melbourne, VIC 3000, Australia.
7
Queensland Fertility Group, 55 Little Edward Street, Spring Hill, QLD 4000, Australia.
8
Histology Services, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, 300 Herston Road, Herston, QLD 4006, Australia.
9
Ritchie Centre, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC 3000, Australia.
10
School of Environmental and Life Sciences, Faculty of Science, The University of Newcastle, University Drive, Callaghan, NSW 2308, Australia.
11
School of Science Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Canberra, Kirinari Street, Bruce, ACT 2617, Australia.
12
School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland 1142, New Zealand.

Abstract

STUDY QUESTION:

Can Chlamydia be found in the testes of infertile men?

SUMMARY ANSWER:

Chlamydia can be found in 16.7% of fresh testicular biopsies and 45.3% of fixed testicular biopsies taken from a selection of infertile men.

WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY:

Male chlamydial infection has been understudied despite male and female infections occurring at similar rates. This is particularly true of asymptomatic infections, which occur in 50% of cases. Chlamydial infection has also been associated with increased sperm DNA damage and reduced male fertility.

STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION:

We collected diagnostic (fixed, n = 100) and therapeutic (fresh, n = 18) human testicular biopsies during sperm recovery procedures from moderately to severely infertile men in a cross-sectional approach to sampling.

PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS:

The diagnostic and therapeutic biopsies were tested for Chlamydia-specific DNA and protein, using real-time PCR and immunohistochemical approaches, respectively. Serum samples matched to the fresh biopsies were also assayed for the presence of Chlamydia-specific antibodies using immunoblotting techniques.

MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE:

Chlamydial major outer membrane protein was detected in fixed biopsies at a rate of 45.3%. This was confirmed by detection of chlamydial DNA and TC0500 protein (replication marker). C. trachomatis DNA was detected in fresh biopsies at a rate of 16.7%, and the sera from each of these three positive patients contained C. trachomatis-specific antibodies. Overall, C. trachomatis-specific antibodies were detected in 72.2% of the serum samples from the patients providing fresh biopsies, although none of the patients were symptomatic nor had they reported a previous sexually transmitted infection diagnosis including Chlamydia.

LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION:

No reproductively healthy male testicular biopsies were tested for the presence of Chlamydia DNA or proteins or Chlamydia-specific antibodies due to the unavailability of these samples.

WIDER IMPLICATIONS FOR THE FINDINGS:

Application of Chlamydia-specific PCR and immunohistochemistry in this human male infertility context of testicular biopsies reveals evidence of a high prevalence of previously unrecognised infection, which may potentially have a pathogenic role in spermatogenic failure.

STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S):

Funding for this project was provided by the Australian NHMRC under project grant number APP1062198. We also acknowledge assistance from the Monash IVF Group and Queensland Fertility Group in the collection of fresh biopsies, and the Monash Health and co-author McLachlan (declared equity interest) in retrieval and sectioning of fixed biopsies. E.M. declares an equity interest in the study due to financing of fixed biopsy sectioning. All other authors declare no conflicts of interest.

TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER:

N/A.

KEYWORDS:

Chlamydia trachomatis ; Chlamydia-specific antibodies; STI; male infertility; testicular infection

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