The paternal contribution to fertilization and embryogenesis is frequently overlooked as the spermatozoon is often considered to be a silent vessel whose only function is to safely deliver the paternal genome to the maternal oocyte. In this article, we hope to demonstrate that this perception is far from the truth. Typically, infertile men have been unable to conceive naturally (or through regular IVF), and therefore, a perturbation of the genetic integrity of sperm heads in infertile males has been under-considered. The advent of intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) however has led to very successful treatment of male factor infertility and subsequent widespread use in IVF clinics worldwide. Until recently, little concern has been raised about the genetic quality of sperm in ICSI patients or the impact genetic aberrations could have on fertility and embryogenesis. This review highlights the importance of chromatin packaging in the sperm nucleus as essential for the establishment and maintenance of a viable pregnancy.
Keywords: Aneuploidy; Chromatin; Genetic integrity; Sperm DNA fragmentation.