The Roles of MicroRNAs in Male Infertility

Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Mar 13;22(6):2910. doi: 10.3390/ijms22062910.


MicroRNAs applications were vastly studied throughout the years, spanning from potential cancer biomarkers to targeted therapies for various diseases. Out of these utilizations, this paper focuses on their role in male infertility. Approximately 10-15% of worldwide couples are affected by infertility. Out of these, 50% are due to male determinants. The majority of cases still have an undetermined cause. Previous studies have found that the aberrant expression of microRNAs could be linked to certain reproductive dysfunctions in males. Further on, this study looked into the most recent literature published on this subject in order to assess the connection between the up-/down-regulation of various microRNAs and the roles they play in male infertility. MicroRNAs were found to be abundant and stable in the seminal liquid, which led to a facile identification using regular RNA detection methods. It was observed that the concentration of microRNAs in semen was modified in the case of patients suffering from asthenozoospermia and azoospermia. Moreover, idiopathic male infertility was associated with a single nucleotide polymorphism of the microRNA binding site. Future studies should focus their attention on discovering future treatments against male infertility targeting specific microRNAs and also on developing new and improved contraceptive methods.

Keywords: azoospermia; male infertility; microRNAs; reproductive dysfunctions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Argonaute Proteins / genetics*
  • Argonaute Proteins / metabolism
  • Asthenozoospermia / genetics*
  • Asthenozoospermia / metabolism
  • Asthenozoospermia / pathology
  • Azoospermia / genetics*
  • Azoospermia / metabolism
  • Azoospermia / pathology
  • Binding Sites
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Male / genetics*
  • Infertility, Male / metabolism
  • Infertility, Male / pathology
  • Male
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • RNA-Induced Silencing Complex / genetics*
  • RNA-Induced Silencing Complex / metabolism
  • Semen / cytology
  • Semen / metabolism
  • Spermatogenesis / genetics


  • AGO2 protein, human
  • Argonaute Proteins
  • MicroRNAs
  • RNA-Induced Silencing Complex