Analysis of sperm telomere length in men with idiopathic infertility



Telomeres are multifunctional nucleoprotein domains with hexanucleotide tandem repeat (5′ TTAGGG 3′) sequences, which cap the chromosome ends. However, the role of telomere and its length in sperm with regard to fertility remains unknown.


In this pilot study, we analyzed 32 idiopathic infertile men and 25 controls for sperm telomere length by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (Q-PCR), and correlated it with sperm DNA fragmentation index (DFI) and reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels.


The relative sperm mean telomere length (T/S) of infertile men was found to be significantly lower (p < 0.005) when compared to controls (0.674 ± 0.028 vs. 0.699 ± 0.030). None of the sperm parameters such as sperm count, forward motility, morphology, ROS, and DFI were found to correlate with the sperm telomere length.


Shorter telomeres in sperm may be one of the causative factors responsible for male infertility, but further detailed studies are needed to confirm these findings.

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Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3



DNA fragmentation index


Reactive oxygen species


Sperm chromatin structure assay


Quantitative PCR


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This work was funded by Grants from the Department of Biotechnology, India (BT/PR4704/MED/12/539/2012) to Rima Dada.

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The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest.

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Correspondence to R. Dada.

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Thilagavathi, J., Kumar, M., Mishra, S.S. et al. Analysis of sperm telomere length in men with idiopathic infertility. Arch Gynecol Obstet 287, 803–807 (2013).

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  • Sperm telomere length
  • Male infertility
  • DNA fragmentation index