Mapping Fifteen Trace Elements in Human Seminal Plasma and Sperm DNA
Studies suggest a relationship between semen quality and the concentration of trace elements in serum or seminal plasma. However, trace elements may be linked to DNA and capable of altering the gene expression patterns. Thus, trace element interactions with DNA may contribute to the mechanisms for a trans-generational reproductive effect. We developed an analytical method to determine the amount of trace elements bound to the sperm DNA, and to estimate their affinity for the sperm DNA by the ratio: R = Log [metal concentration in the sperm DNA/metal concentration in seminal plasma]. We then analyzed the concentrations of 15 trace elements (Al, Cd, Cr, Cu, Hg, Mn, Mo, Ni, Pb, Ti, V, Zn, As, Sb, and Se) in the seminal plasma and the sperm DNA in 64 normal and 30 abnormal semen specimens with Inductively Coupled Plasma/Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS). This study showed all trace elements were detected in the seminal plasma and only metals were detected in the sperm DNA. There was no correlation between the metals’ concentrations in the seminal plasma and the sperm DNA. Al had the highest affinity for DNA followed by Pb and Cd. This strong affinity is consistent with the known mutagenic effects of these metals. The lowest affinity was observed for Zn and Ti. We observed a significant increase of Al linked to the sperm DNA of patients with oligozoospermia and teratozoospermia. Al’s reproductive toxicity might be due to Al linked to DNA, by altering spermatogenesis and expression patterns of genes involved in the function of reproduction.
KeywordsTrace elements Reproductive toxicant Sperm DNA Seminal plasma DNA adducts Mutations
We thank C. Metton, M.J. Fays-Bernardin, and D. Daioglou for their technical assistance as well as Germetheque for their support.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Funding Source and Approval Committee
GERMETHEQUE biobank (France, Marseille University Hospital la Conception) provided all samples and exposure data. In accordance with the 1975 Helsinki Declaration on human experimentation, GERMETHEQUE obtained consent to use each participant’s samples in the human fertility studies. The Germetheque scientific committee approved the study design, and, as a consequence, GERMETHEQUE was validated by the Institutional Review Board (CPP Sud-Ouest and Outremer, n°2-15-27).
The Germetheque sample collection was supported by grants from the ANR (Agence Nationale pour la Recherche), the ABM (Agence de la Biomédecine), the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Toulouse, and APHM (Assistance Publique Hôpitaux de Marseille).
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