Varicocele decreases epididymal neutral α-glucosidase and is associated with alteration of nuclear DNA and plasma membrane in spermatozoa

Authors

  • Giovanny Vivas-Acevedo,

    1. Department of Clinical Bioanalysis, Centro Diagnóstico de Infertilidad y Enfermedades Genéticas (CEDIEG), University of Los Andes, Mérida
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  • Ricardo Lozano-Hernández,

    1. Department of Clinical Bioanalysis, Centro Diagnóstico de Infertilidad y Enfermedades Genéticas (CEDIEG), University of Los Andes, Mérida
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  • María I. Camejo

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Organismal Biology, University Simón Bolívar, Baruta, Venezuela
    • Correspondence: María Isabel Camejo, Departamento de Biología de Organismos, Universidad Simón Bolívar. Caracas, 1080 A, Venezuela.

      e-mail: mcamejo@usb.ve

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Abstract

Objective

  • To assess the relationship between a marker of epididymal function and both the fragmentation of the sperm nucleus and the integrity and maturity of the sperm membrane in patients with or without varicocele.

Patients and Methods

  • Semen samples were obtained from men with varicocele grades II and III (n = 60) and from a control group with zoospermia defined as normal (n = 30).
  • Samples were evaluated by a spermiogram, a hypoosmotic swelling test (HOST), neutral α-glucosidase (NAG) enzyme activity, sperm hyaluronan-binding assay (HBA) and DNA fragmentation using a sperm chromatin dispersion (SCD) test.

Results

  • Seminal plasma NAG levels, percentage of sperm bound to hyaluronic acid, HOST-positive cells and sperm quality were significantly lower in the varicocele compared with the control group.
  • Higher levels of sperm DNA fragmentation, as measured by SCD, were also observed in the varicocele group compared with the control group.
  • Seminal NAG activity levels showed a strong negative correlation with DNA fragmentation and a significant positive correlation with the HBA test and the HOST.

Conclusions

  • Varicocele causes a reduction in NAG activity by the epididymis that is associated with damage to both the membrane and sperm nucleus and a reduction in the seminal parameters.
  • NAG levels were correlated with the quality of the sperm membrane and nucleus.
  • Data suggest that a reduction of fertilization capacity in men during varicocele can result from damage to both the testis and the epididymis.

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