Reactive oxygen species: potential cause for DNA fragmentation in human spermatozoa

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We have recently established that poor-quality semen samples have a greater percentage of spermatozoa with DNA fragmentation than normal fertile samples (Sun et al., 1997; Lopes et al., 1998). In addition, we demonstrated a negative correlation between the percentage of spermatozoa with fragmented DNA and fertilization rates in in-vitro fertilization (IVF) (Sun et al., 1997) and in intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) (Lopes et al., 1998). At present the aetiology of sperm DNA fragmentation in infertile men is unclear.We hypothesize that ROS may be involved in the DNA fragmentation seen in these germ cells since several studies have shown that ROS can cause DNA damage in somatic cells (Buttke et al., 1994; Ratan et al., 1994).

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