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Review
, 33 (4), 441-54

Effects of Aging on the Male Reproductive System

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Review

Effects of Aging on the Male Reproductive System

Sezgin Gunes et al. J Assist Reprod Genet.

Abstract

The study aims to discuss the effects of aging on the male reproductive system. A systematic review was performed using PubMed from 1980 to 2014. Aging is a natural process comprising of irreversible changes due to a myriad of endogenous and environmental factors at the level of all organs and systems. In modern life, as more couples choose to postpone having a child due to various socioeconomic reasons, research for understanding the effects of aging on the reproductive system has gained an increased importance. Paternal aging also causes genetic and epigenetic changes in spermatozoa, which impair male reproductive functions through their adverse effects on sperm quality and count as, well as, on sexual organs and the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis. Hormone production, spermatogenesis, and testes undergo changes as a man ages. These small changes lead to decrease in both the quality and quantity of spermatozoa. The offspring of older fathers show high prevalence of genetic abnormalities, childhood cancers, and several neuropsychiatric disorders. In addition, the latest advances in assisted reproductive techniques give older men a chance to have a child even with poor semen parameters. Further studies should investigate the onset of gonadal senesce and its effects on aging men.

Keywords: Aging; Gonads; Hormone; Oxidative stress; Telomeres.

Figures

Fig. 1
Fig. 1
Accumulation of oxidative damage with paternal aging and its consequences in the offspring. Aging causes oxidative stress due to accumulation of ROS in male germ cells over time. Oxidative stress in spermatozoal mitochondria induces lipid peroxidation and further ROS generation. Excessive amounts of ROS and decreased antioxidant capacity in the course of aging may induce apoptosis or oxidative damage to DNA. If left unrepaired, oxidatively damaged paternal DNA may proceed through fertilization into the offspring, causing a variety of diseases in the offspring
Fig. 2
Fig. 2
Cell divisions and errors in spermatogenesis in the course of aging. A continuous series of DNA replication and mitosis take place during spermatogenesis. Primordial germ cells undergo about 30 mitotic divisions during intrauterine development. After puberty, DNA replication and mitosis continue and 20–25 mitotic divisions occur each year during adulthood. Errors during DNA replication are the primary source of point mutations in spermatozoa

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