Cell and Tissue Research

, Volume 322, Issue 1, pp 33-41

First online:

DNA damage to spermatozoa has impacts on fertilization and pregnancy

  • S. E. M. LewisAffiliated withSchool of Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Queen’s University
  • , R. J. AitkenAffiliated withARC Centre of Excellence in Biotechnology and Development, Discipline of Biological Sciences, University of Newcastle Email author 

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DNA damage in the male germ line has been associated with poor semen quality, low fertilization rates, impaired preimplantation development, increased abortion and an elevated incidence of disease in the offspring, including childhood cancer. The causes of this DNA damage are still uncertain but the major candidates are oxidative stress and aberrant apoptosis. The weight of evidence currently favours the former and, in keeping with this conclusion, positive results have been reported for antioxidant therapy both in vivo and in vitro. Resolving the causes of DNA damage in the male germ line will be essential if we are to prevent the generation of genetically damaged human embryos, particularly in the context of assisted conception therapy.


DNA damage Male germ line Oxidative stress Antioxidant therapy Sperm chromatin structure assay Assisted conception Human