Spermatozoa from patients with seminal alterations exhibit a differential micro ribonucleic acid profile

Spermatozoa from infertile patients with asthenozoospermia, teratozoospermia, or oligozoospermia exhibit a differential miRNA profile associated with biological processes related to their particular seminal alterations.

Albert Salas-Huetos, M.Sc., Joan Blanco, Ph.D., Francesca Vidal, Ph.D., Anna Godo, M.Sc., Mark Grossmann, Ph.D., Maria Carme Pons, M.Sc., Silvia F-Fernández, M.Sc., Nicolás Garrido, Ph.D., Ester Anton, Ph.D.

Volume 104, Issue 3, Pages 591-601


To compare the microRNA (miRNA) expression profile in spermatozoa from three infertile populations vs. a group of fertile men.

Evaluation of the expression level of 736 miRNAs in human spermatozoa using TaqMan quantitative reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction.

University research facility.

Semen samples with a single seminal alteration were collected from infertile individuals: asthenozoospermic (n = 10), teratozoospermic (n = 10), and oligozoospermic (n = 10).


Main Outcome Measure(s):
Correlation of the expression level of each miRNA with seminal parameters, age, and chromosome instability; clustering of the individuals according to their miRNA expression profiles and influence of the seminogram, age, chromosome instability, and assisted reproductive technology outcome in the clustering; analysis of the differentially expressed miRNAs (DE-miRNAs) in each infertile population; genome annotation of these DE-miRNAs; and ontological analysis of their predicted targets.

The hsa-miR-34b-3p correlated with age, the hsa-miR-629-3p with sperm motility, and the hsa-miR-335-5p, hsa-miR-885-5p, and hsa-miR-152-3p with sperm concentration. The individuals clustered into two groups, and only the seminogram was differentially distributed. We identified 32 DE-miRNAs in the asthenozoospermic group, 19 in the teratozoospermic group, and 18 in the oligozoospermic group. The up-regulated miRNAs presented an enriched localization in introns, affecting relevant genes for spermatogenesis. The predicted targets of the DE-miRNAs contained critical genes associated to infertility, and their ontological analysis revealed significantly associated functions related to the seminal alterations of each group.

Spermatozoa from patients with seminal alterations exhibit a differential miRNA profile. This provides new evidence that miRNAs have an essential role in spermatogenesis, contributing to the mechanisms involved in human fertility.

  • We have long suspected that there was so much more under the surface occurring in infertile men with abnormal semen analyses. The abnormalities are slowly being discovered as testing improves. This study demonstrates that miRNA is altered in those with abnormal SA and infertility. Will be interesting to see the research continue with the findings from this article and the clinical implications and potential future therapeutic treatments that may develop.

Translate »