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. 2012 Aug;29(8):759-64.
doi: 10.1007/s10815-012-9785-z. Epub 2012 May 5.

Influence of Microsurgical Varicocelectomy on Human Sperm Mitochondrial DNA Copy Number: A Pilot Study

Free PMC article

Influence of Microsurgical Varicocelectomy on Human Sperm Mitochondrial DNA Copy Number: A Pilot Study

Maria San Gabriel et al. J Assist Reprod Genet. .
Free PMC article


Background: There is good evidence to show that varicocele repair can improve conventional sperm parameters, as well as, sperm DNA integrity, in infertile men with a clinical varicocele.

Objective: To examine the effect of varicocelectomy on sperm quality, specifically, sperm nuclear chromatin integrity and sperm mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) copy number.

Design, setting, and participants: A prospective study done between March 2007 and January 2008. We evaluated a consecutive series of infertile men (n = 14) presenting to Ovo clinic with one year or more history of infertility, a clinically palpable varicocele and poor motility (<25 % rapid progressive and <50 % progressive).

Surgical procedure: Microsurgical sub-inguinal varicocelectomy.

Outcome measurements and statistical analysis: Conventional sperm parameters, sperm mtDNA copy number (by real time PCR) and sperm chromatin structure assay (SCSA) parameters (%DFI,% HDS) before and 4 months after microsurgical varicocelectomy.

Results and limitations: Sperm concentration and SCSA parameters (%DFI and %HDS) improved significantly after surgery (P < 0.05). Sperm mitochondrial DNA copy number decreased significantly after surgery (27 ± 30 to 9 ± 6 copies per sperm, respectively, P = 0.032). There was a significant negative correlation between mitochondrial DNA copy number and sperm motility (r = - 0.71, P = 0.002).

Conclusion: These findings support the concept that correction of a varicocele can improve spermatogenesis and sperm function, as mitochondrial DNA copy number has been suggested to reflect the efficiency of spermatogenesis and has been inversely related to sperm motility.


Fig. 1
Fig. 1
Correlation between sperm mitochondrial DNA copy number and total motility (%) (R-squared = 0.5180, P = 0.002)

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