Molecular detection of Y chromosome microdeletions: an Irish study


M.Glennon National Diagnostics Centre, BioResearch Ireland, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland. E-mail:


The region of the Y chromosome most critical for male fertility is called the azoospermia factor (AZF) region and it is located within subintervals five and six on the long arm of the Y chromosome. Several genes, all residing here, contribute to spermatogenesis and deletions in these genes are thought to be pathogenetically involved in some cases of male infertility associated with azoospermia or oligozoospermia. The aim of this study was to establish the prevalence of microdeletions in the AZF region of the Y chromosome in an Irish male population undergoing fertility treatment. To do this, we applied and compared two independent polymerase chain reaction (PCR) based screening methods, namely, a PCR protocol using several sequence-tagged site (STS) primer sets and a recently published multiplex PCR Y chromosome screening protocol. A total of 78 patients, attending the IVF unit at University College Hospital, Galway, were included in this study. Of them, 56 suffered from idiopathic azoospermic/oligozoospermic infertility. The remaining 22 patients had various conditions, which may have contributed to their infertility. A total of 50 age-matched normospermic men were included as controls. Two microdeletions were found; one in the AZFa region and one in AZFb region. These deletions were observed among the truly idiopathic cases. Further analysis was performed to study the extent of the deletions and it was confirmed that each deletion encompassed the respective AZF region including the AZF candidate gene.