NEW ORLEANS — Men with partners who experienced idiopathic recurrent pregnancy loss had poorer sperm morphology and higher levels of seminal reactive oxygen species compared with men with unaffected partners, according to findings presented at the Endocrine Society Annual Meeting.
“Over half of the cases of recurrent pregnancy loss are unknown; they are idiocratic,” Channa Jayasena, MA, MB, MRCP, FRCPath, of the Imperial College London in the U.K., said during a press conference. “We know that sperm DNA plays a very important role in placental formation, so it seems logical to proceed with this route.”
Jayasena and colleagues compared categories of sperm morphology and levels of seminal reactive oxygen species, sperm DNA fragmentation and serum morning testosterone in 49 men who had partners with idiopathic pregnancy loss and 34 men with partners who did not experience pregnancy loss, which is defined by three consecutive pregnancy losses before reaching 20 weeks of gestation. Jayasena said seminal reactive oxygen species and sperm DNA fragmentation may be potential explanatory factors in the link between recurrent pregnancy loss and previously observed issues in the male partner, including prostate infection and obesity.
Participants completed questionnaires to assess testicular surgery incidence, medication use, sexually transmitted infections, and smoking and alcohol status, which the researchers noted were possible factors in sperm impairment. Measurements of seminal reactive oxygen species were taken using a luminescent compound known as luminol, with more frequent changes in color indicating heighted oxidation. DNA fragmentation was assessed with a Halosperm G2 test kit, which identifies healthy sperm by the presence of an observable “halo” and DNA damaged sperm by the absence of this visual marker.
Partners of women with idiopathic pregnancy loss had lower rates of normal sperm morphology than partners of women without loss (3.4% vs. 4.5%; P < .001); Jayasena also noted that sperm motility was weakened. These same men also had higher levels of seminal reactive oxygen species (9.3 relative light units [RLU] per second per million sperm vs. 2.3 RLU per second per million sperm; P < .05) and DNA fragmentation index (16.3 vs. 7.4; P < .0001) compared with partners of women without pregnancy loss. There was no significant difference found in morning serum testosterone levels between the two groups.
“This has important implications [that] may start to come through in the guidelines soon ... which is to actually argue that there should be some form of routine testing for men whose partners have had recurrent miscarriages that are at least unexplained,” Jayasena said. “If we can identify new ways and molecular mechanism by which recurrent pregnancy loss occurs, then we have what we call novel therapeutic targets to which we can design drugs against it.” – by Phil Neuffer
Jayasena C, et al. OR18-5. Elevated semen oxidative stress in male partners as novel marker of recurrent pregnancy loss. Presented at: The Endocrine Society Annual Meeting; March 23-26, 2019; New Orleans.
Disclosure: Jayasena reports no relevant financial disclosures.