Evaluating γH2AX in spermatozoa from male infertility patients

γH2AX might be a useful biomarker for evaluating double-stranded breaks in human spermatozoa.

Hui-zhi Zhong, M.D., L.V. Fu-tong, M.S., Xue-lian Deng, M.D., Ying Hu, M.D., Dan-ni Xie, M.D., Bin Lin, M.S., Zeng-nan Mo, Ph.D., Fa-quan Lin, M.D.

Volume 104, Issue 3, Pages 574-581


To investigate whether γH2AX levels were different in the spermatozoa of healthy men compared with infertility patients, and to assess the possible correlations between γH2AX and conventional semen parameters and double-stranded breaks (DSBs) identified with the use of comet assay.

Prospective study.

Clinical laboratory.

Semen from 100 male infertile patients and 100 healthy sperm donors.

Human sperm samples were analyzed in terms of World Health Organization parameters. The γH2AX levels were detected by means of flow cytometry. DSBs of sperm were detected by means of comet assay. Morphology slides were made and the sperm morphology assessed according to strict criteria.

Main Outcome Measure(s):
Conventional semen analyses, γH2AX levels in sperm, DNA DSBs in sperm, and correlations among γH2AX, conventional semen analyses, and DSBs.

Concentration, viability, motility, and normal sperm morphology were significantly lower in male infertility patients compared with healthy men. Also, γH2AX levels and the number of DSBs were significantly higher in the sperm of infertile subjects compared with healthy men. γH2AX levels correlated negatively with conventional semen parameters and positively with DSBs. A threshold γH2AX level of 18.55% was identified as a cutoff value to discriminate infertile subjects from fertile control subjects with a specificity of 86.0% and a sensitivity of 83.0%. The positive and negative predictive values of the 18.55% γH2AX threshold were high: 87.7% and 85.5%, respectively.

γH2AX levels were higher in the sperm of male infertility patients than in healthy men. γH2AX levels in sperm, as evaluated with the use of flow cytometry, might be a useful biomarker for evaluating DSBs in human spermatozoa.

  • Good study looking at the association between a potential biomarker to assess DSB in sperm DNA. Do the authors feel this could be used in lieu of DNA fragmentation? and if yes, what additional value does it add beyond DFI?

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