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A new technique can predict pregnancy success and timing

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Wayne State University School of Medicine researchers have found that a unique approach to measuring male sperm age has the potential to predict pregnancy success and timing.

A new measurement of sperm age could predict pregnancy success

Pregnancy, also known as pregnancy, is the period when one or more children grow in a woman’s womb. A multiple pregnancy produces more than one offspring, such as twins.

Pregnancy is normally caused by sexual intercourse, but it can also be caused by assisted reproductive technology procedures. Pregnancy can result in live birth, spontaneous miscarriage, induced abortion, or stillbirth. Delivery usually takes place about 40 weeks after the last menstrual cycle has started.

According to a recent study conducted by scientists at Wayne State University School of Medicine, a new technique for measuring the age of male sperm has the potential to predict the success and time of pregnancy.

The study, published May 13, 2022, in the journal Human Reproduction, found that the epigenetic aging clocks of sperm may act as a potential biomarker to estimate the time to conception of couples. The results also emphasize the importance of the male partner in successful reproduction.

“Chronological age is an important determinant of reproductive capacity and success in couples trying to conceive, but chronological age does not include cumulative genetic and external – environmental – factors, thus serving as a proxy measure of the ‘true’ biological age of cells,” said J. Richard Pilsner, Ph.D., lead author of the study. dr. Pilsner is the Robert J. Sokol, MD, endowed chair of molecular obstetrics and gynecology, and director of molecular genetics and infertility at WSU’s CS Mott Center for Human Growth and Development.

“Sperm quality results using World Health Organization guidelines have been used for decades to assess male infertility, but they remain poor predictors of reproductive outcomes. Thus, the ability to record the biological age of sperm could provide a new platform to assess the better assess male contribution to reproductive success, especially in infertile couples.”

Richard Pilsner

Richard Pilsner, Ph.D., Robert J. Sokol, MD, endowed chair of molecular obstetrics and gynecology and director of molecular genetics and infertility at the CS Mott Center for Human Growth and Development, Wayne State University. Credit: Wayne State University

Epigenetic aging of sperm is the biological aging of sperm rather than chronological aging. The study found a 17% lower cumulative chance of conception at 12 months for couples with male partners in older categories of sperm epigenetic aging compared to younger categories of sperm epigenetic aging. The study included 379 male partners of couples who had stopped using birth control to become pregnant.

The study also found that men who smoked had a higher epigenetic age of their sperm.

The results, said Dr. Pilsner, indicate that higher epigenetic aging of the sperm is associated with a longer time to conceive in couples who are not helped by fertility treatment, and in couples who have become pregnant, with a shorter gestational age.

The strong association between epigenetic aging of sperm and pregnancy probability and its delay or reversal by lifestyle choices and/or pharmacological interventions warrants further investigation. In addition, because older fathers are at increased risk of having children with adverse neurological outcomes, it is important to understand the possible relationship of epigenetic aging of sperm on children’s health and development.

“There is a critical need for new measures of male fertility to assess overall reproductive success in couples in the general population,” said Dr. Pilsner. “These data demonstrate that our sperm epigenetic clocks may meet this need as a novel biomarker predicting pregnancy success in couples not seeking fertility treatment. While the chronological age of both partners remains an important predictor of reproductive success, our clocks likely recapitulate both external as well as internal factors that stimulate biological aging of sperm.Such summary measurement of biological age of sperm is of clinical importance as it allows couples in the general population to realize their chances of pregnancy during natural intercourse, thereby potential infertility treatment decisions are informed and accelerated.”

dr. Pilsner advised that because the groups studied were largely white, larger and more diverse cohorts are needed to confirm the link between epigenetic aging of sperm and the success of couple pregnancies in other races and ethnicities.

Reference: “Sperm epigenetic clock associates with pregnancy outcomes in the general population” by J Richard Pilsner, Hachem Saddiki, Brian W Whitcomb, Alexander Suvorov, Germaine M Buck Louis, Sunni L Mumford, Enrique F Schisterman, Oladele A Oluwayiose, and Laura B Balzer , 13 May 2022, Human Reproduction
Reference: 10.1093/humrep/deac084

The research was funded in part by grants from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences of the National Institutes of Health (R01ES028298 and P30 ES020957); and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health (N01-HD-3-3355, N01-HD-3-3356, and N01-HD-3-3358).


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