Sperm DNA integrity in adult survivors of paediatric leukemia and lymphoma: A pilot study on the impact of age and type of treatment

PLoS One. 2019 Dec 19;14(12):e0226262. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0226262. eCollection 2019.


Childhood cancer survivors (CCS) are more likely than siblings to report low sperm count and to use assisted reproductive technologies. Yet, it is still unclear if the sperm produced many years after remission of cancer display DNA and chromatin damage linked to male infertility and poor embryo development. As well, the importance of the age at diagnosis in relation to puberty is poorly understood. In this pilot study, we compared reproductive parameters and sperm damage from adult survivors of childhood leukemia and lymphoma, sub-divided into those diagnosed before or after puberty, to men with no history of cancer. Our data indicate that CCS, independently of the age of diagnosis, have a high risk of low sperm count and when sperm are present, chances of DNA and chromatin abnormalities appear similar to those seen in the general population. Exposure to alkylating agents is correlated with low sperm count whereas exposure to anthracyclines, and doxorubicin in particular, could have long-term consequences on sperm integrity. This study highlights the need for further research on fertility among male CCS and the importance of informing families about the potential long-term impact of chemotherapy on male fertility regardless of age at diagnosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • DNA / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Leukemia / physiopathology*
  • Leukemia / therapy*
  • Lymphoma / physiopathology*
  • Lymphoma / therapy*
  • Male
  • Pilot Projects
  • Reproduction
  • Semen Analysis
  • Spermatozoa / metabolism*
  • Spermatozoa / physiology
  • Survivors*


  • DNA

Grant support