Spontaneous fertility and IVF outcome The new evidence of HPV sperm infection

Capsule:
This clinical study demonstrates a significant association between HPV sperm infection, reduced pregnancy rates, and higher miscarriage rates in couples undergoing assisted reproduction.

Authors:
Andrea Garolla, M.D., Bruno Engl, M.D., Damiano Pizzol, M.D., Marco Ghezzi, M.D., Alessandro Bertoldo, B.Sc., Aberto Bottacin, B.Sc., Marco Noventa, M.D., Carlo Foresta, M.D.

Volume 105, Issue 1, Pages 65-72

Abstract:

Objective:
To evaluate the reproductive outcome of infertile couples undergoing assisted reproduction techniques (ART) with or without human papillomavirus (HPV) semen infection.

Design:
Cross-sectional clinical study.

Setting:
Units of andrology, reproductive medicine, and gynecology.

Patient(s):
A total of 226 infertile couples.

Intervention(s):
Male partners were evaluated by means of fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) for HPV on semen. After a diagnostic period, female partners underwent intrauterine insemination (IUI) or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).

Main Outcome Measure(s):
Seminal parameters and FISH analysis for HPV in sperm head. Spontaneous or assisted pregnancies, live births, and miscarriages were recorded. Statistical analysis included unpaired Student t test and chi-square test.

Result(s):
Fifty-four male partners (23.9%) had HPV semen infection confined to sperm, confined to exfoliated cells, or in both cells. During the diagnostic period, noninfected couples showed spontaneous pregnancies. IUI and ICSI treatments were performed in, respectively, 60 and 98 noninfected and in 21 and 33 infected couples, with 38.4% and 14.2% cumulative pregnancy rates, respectively. The follow-up of pregnancies showed a higher miscarriage rate in infected couples (62.5% vs. 16.7%). Ongoing pregnancies of the latter group were characterized by HPV infection confined to exfoliated cells.

Conclusion(s):
A reduction in natural and assisted cumulative pregnancy rate and an increase in miscarriage rate are related to the presence of HPV at sperm level. Although the exact mechanism by which sperm infection is able to impair fertility remains unclear, this aspect is worthy of further investigations. If confirmed, these results could change the clinical and diagnostic approach to infertile couples.

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