Comparative proteomic analysis coupled with conventional protein assay as a strategy to identify predictors of successful testicular sperm extraction in patients with non-obstructive azoospermia



Thomas Freour, Médecine et Biologie du développement et de la reproduction, Hôpital Mère et Enfant, CHU de Nantes, 38 boulevard Jean Monnet, NANTES Cedex 44093, France. E-mail:


Among infertile couples, approximately half have to face with male infertility. In men with non-obstructive azoospermia, surgical retrieval testicular sperm extraction (TESE) of spermatozoa can be attempted, but with low success rates. A specific biomarker that could predict residual spermatogenesis would obviously be of interest before performing TESE. Thus, our aim was to identify biomarkers of residual spermatogenesis in seminal plasma of patients with non-obstructive azoospermia (NOA) using an isotope-coded protein label (ICPL)-based proteomic strategy coupled with conventional protein assay. This retrospective study was conducted in 40 men with NOA at the University Hospital of Nantes and Proteomics Core facility Biogenouest – Inserm U1085 – IRSET, Rennes, France. Comparative ICPL proteomic screening of frozen seminal plasma and correlation with TESE outcome allowed the identification of some differentially expressed proteins. Among them, lectin galactoside-binding, soluble 3 binding protein (LGALS3BP) expression was further confirmed using conventional protein assay, and its interest as a predictor of TESE outcome was then evaluated and compared with conventional clinical and hormonal markers of residual spermatogenesis. Among the 12 differentially expressed proteins identified with comparative ICPL proteomic strategy, seminal LGALS3BP expression was found to be significantly higher in men with successful TESE. Finally, comparative ICPL proteomic screening of seminal plasma appears to be a promising approach for the identification of biomarkers of residual spermatogenesis. LGALS3BP, associated with clinical and hormonal markers, could potentially be used as a predictive marker of successful TESE outcome in patients with NOA.