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    Investigating the Glycating Effects of Glucose, Glyoxal and Methylglyoxal on Human Sperm

    Nevin, C, McNeil, L, Ahmed, N, Murgatroyd, C, Brison, D and Carroll, M (2018) Investigating the Glycating Effects of Glucose, Glyoxal and Methylglyoxal on Human Sperm. Scientific Reports, 8 (1). ISSN 2045-2322


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    Glycation is the non-enzymatic reaction between reducing sugars, such as glucose, and proteins, lipids or nucleic acids, producing Advanced Glycation End (AGE) products. AGEs, produced during natural senescence as well as through lifestyle factors such as diet and smoking, are key pathogenic compounds in the initiation and progression of diabetes. Importantly, many of these factors and conditions also have influence on male fertility, affecting sperm count and semen quality, contributing to the decreasing trend in male fertility. This study investigated the impact of AGEs on sperm damage. In vitro sperm glycation assays were used to determine the levels and localization of the potent AGE compound, carboxymethyl-lysine (CML) in response to treatment with the glycating compounds glucose, glyoxal and methylglyoxal. Sperm function assays were then used to assess the effects of glycation on motility and hyaluronan binding, and levels of oxidative DNA damage were analyzed through measurement of the marker, 8-oxoguanine. Results showed that glyoxal, but not glucose or methylglyoxal, induced significant increases in CML levels on sperm and this correlated with an increase in 8-oxoguanine. Immunocytochemistry revealed that AGEs were located on all parts of the sperm cell and most prominently on the head region. Sperm motility and hyaluronidase activity were not adversely affected by glycation. Together, the observed detrimental effects of the increased levels of AGE on DNA integrity, without an effect on motility and hyaluronidase activity, suggest that sperm may retain some fertilizing capacity under these adverse conditions.

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