Cytogenetic and molecular analysis of the Y chromosome: absence of a significant relationship between CAG repeat length in exon 1 of the androgen receptor gene and infertility in Indian men

Varinderpal S Dhillon, Syed A Husain
International Journal of Andrology 2003, 26 (5): 286-95
The genetic basis of male infertility remains unclear in the majority of cases. Recent studies have indicated an association between microdeletions of the azoospermia factor a (AZFa)-AZFc regions of Yq and severe oligospermia or azoospermia. Increased (CAG)n repeat lengths in the androgen receptor (AR) gene have also been reported in infertile men. Therefore, in order to assess the prevalence of these genetic defects to male infertility, 183 men with non-obstructive azoospermia (n = 70), obstructive azoospermia (n = 33), severe oligospermia (n = 80) and 59 fertile men were examined cytogenetically and at molecular level for Yq deletions, microdeletions, and AR-CAG repeat lengths along with hormonal profiles [luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and testosterone (T)]. We used high resolution cytogenetics to detect chromosome deletions and multiplex polymerase chain reaction (PCR) involving 27 sequence-tagged site (STS) markers on Yq to determine the rate and extent of Yq microdeletions. PCR amplification with primers flanking exon 1 of AR gene was used to determine the AR-(CAG)n repeat lengths. Hormonal profiles (LH, FSH and T levels) were also analysed in infertile and fertile men. Testicular biopsies showed Sertoli cell only (SCO) morphology, maturation arrests (MA) and hypospermatogenesis. No chromosome aberrations were found in infertile men but there was a significant increase (p < 0.001) in the association of acrocentric chromosomes including the Y chromosome. Yq microdeletions were found in 16 non-obstructive azoospermic men (16 of 70; 22%) and seven severe oligospermic individuals (seven of 80; 8.7%) and most of them had deletions in the sY240 locus. No Yq microdeletions were detected in patients with obstructive azoospermia. No statistically significant difference in the mean length of CAG repeats in AR gene was observed between infertile and fertile men (22.2 +/- 1.5 and 21.5 +/- 1.4 respectively). No significant increase or decrease in levels of LH, FSH and T was observed in infertile and fertile men. In some infertile men, significantly elevated levels of FSH alone or in combination with LH were found to be indicative of failure of spermatogenesis and/or suggestive of testicular failure. Y-chromosome microdeletions contribute to infertility in some patients but no relationship could be established with the (CAG)n repeat lengths in exon 1 of the AR gene in infertile Indian men.

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