Oxidative DNA damage impairs global sperm DNA methylation in infertile men

  • Ozlem Tunc
  • Kelton TremellenEmail author



Methylation of sperm DNA is impaired in many infertile men potentially adversely effecting reproductive outcomes. In somatic cells oxidative damage to DNA and hyperhomocysteinaemia are linked with DNA hypomethylation. The objective of this study was to investigate if these pathologies also impair sperm DNA methylation.


The relationship between sperm DNA quality, oxidative stress and serum homocysteine was analysed at study entry and after 3 months of antioxidant treatment.


Overall a significant negative correlation was observed between sperm DNA methylation and sperm DNA fragmentation, as well as seminal reactive oxygen species (ROS) production. Sperm DNA methylation was not significantly related to serum homocysteine concentrations. Administration of an antioxidant supplement produced a significant fall in seminal ROS levels and sperm DNA fragmentation, while increasing sperm DNA methylation.


These results suggest that oxidative stress related damage to sperm DNA impedes the process of methylation, while antioxidant supplementation appears to have the potential to reduce DNA damage and normalize sperm DNA methylation.


Antioxidant DNA methylation Homocysteine Sperm 



The authors wish to thank all the participants and the staff of Repromed, especially Margaret Szemis for contribution to data collection and Dr. Megan Mitchell for her support in the conduct of the methylation assays. The authors acknowledge financial support from The Colin Matthews Research Fund (University of Adelaide) and Bayer Consumer Care, Australia. Ms Tunc is a recipient of a Faculty of Health Sciences Postgraduate Scholarship from The University of Adelaide.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Centre for Reproductive Health, Discipline of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, School of Paediatrics and Reproductive HealthUniversity of AdelaideAdelaideSouth Australia
  2. 2.RepromedDulwichSouth Australia
  3. 3.DulwichSouth Australia

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