Associations of sperm telomere length with semen parameters, clinical outcomes and lifestyle factors in human normozoospermic samples

Berneau, Stephane orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-4181-2745, Shackleton, Jennifer, Nevin, Clare, Altakroni, Basher, Papadopoulos, George, Horne, Gregory, Brison, Daniel R., Murgatroyd, Christopher, Povey, Andy C. et al (2019) Associations of sperm telomere length with semen parameters, clinical outcomes and lifestyle factors in human normozoospermic samples. Andrology, 8 (3). pp. 583-593. ISSN 2047-2919

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Many studies have demonstrated that lifestyle factors can affect sperm quality and fertility. Sperm telomere length (STL) has been reported as potential biomarker or sperm quality. However, no studies have investigated how lifestyle factors can affect STL and associated clinical outcomes.

The purpose of this manuscript is to investigate any association between STL with lifestyle factors, semen parameters and clinical outcomes.

Materials and methods
Sperm telomere length was measured using real‐time PCR in normozoospermic male partners (n = 66) of couples undergoing ART treatment. Each participant also completed a detailed questionnaire about general lifestyle. Linear regression univariate analysis and ANCOVA were performed to respectively determine correlations between STL and study parameters or identify statistically significant differences in STL while controlling for age, BMI and other factors.

Using a linear regression model, STL is positively correlated with in vitro fertilization success (n = 65, r = 0.37, P = .004) but not with embryo cleavage rates and post‐implantation clinical outcomes including gestational age‐adjusted birth weight. No associations were observed between STL and sperm count, concentration or progressive motility. We further found that STL did not associate age, BMI, health or lifestyle factors.

In somatic cells, the rate of telomere shortening is influenced by a number of lifestyle factors such as smoking, diet and occupation. However, little is known about how lifestyle factors affect STL and subsequently reproductive outcome. Out data suggest that STL might have an important role mechanistically for fertilization rate regardless of sperm parameters and lifestyle factors.

The results of this study demonstrate that STL is associated with in vitro fertilization rates, but not with semen parameters nor lifestyle factors. Further investigations are warranted to identify the potential variation of STL overtime to clarify its significance as a potential biomarker in ART.

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