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The marker of alkyl DNA base damage, N7-methylguanine, is associated with semen quality in men

Altakroni, B, Nevin, C, Carroll, M ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7853-6732, Murgatroyd, C, Horne, G, Brison, DR and Povey, AC (2021) The marker of alkyl DNA base damage, N7-methylguanine, is associated with semen quality in men. Scientific Reports, 11. ISSN 2045-2322

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Sperm DNA contains a range of DNA base damage that can arise, in part, from exposure to methylating agents. However, the effects are not fully characterized and so the aim of this study was to investigate associations between semen quality and the levels of N7-methyldeoxyguanosine (N7-MedG), a marker of exposure to methylating agents, and other markers of DNA damage and DNA methylation. Sperm samples were collected from 105 men attending an assisted reproduction clinic as part of a couple undergoing treatment for infertility and semen quality assessed manually according to WHO guidelines. Semen levels of N7-MedG, quantified by immunoslotblot, were significantly higher in men with sperm concentration &lt; 15 × 10<jats:sup>6</jats:sup>/ml (p ≤ 0.01), semen volume &lt; 1.5 ml (p ≤ 0.05) and also in men with any aspect of semen quality below WHO reference levels (p ≤ 0.001). Measures of neutral Comet DNA damage were correlated with semen quality in a univariate analysis but not after adjustment for N7-MedG levels. Sperm concentration was negatively associated with % methylation at the gene for <jats:italic>DAZL</jats:italic> but no other marker of global or gene-specific DNA methylation. Results support the hypothesis that the known toxic and DNA damaging properties of alkylating agent exposure may have direct deleterious consequences on semen quality.

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