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Increased rate of nondisjunction in sex cells derived from low-quality semen

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The relationship between chromosomal nondisjunction and semen quality was studied in two groups of males who differ highly in their semen quality: 12 individuals with low-quality semen caused by varicocele, and 8 subjects with high-quality semen, selected from sperm donors for in vitro fertilization. Chromosomal nondisjunction was inferred from the rate of disomy found in mature sperm cells. To determine the rate of disomy, we applied fluorescence in situ hybridization using satellite-specific probes for chromosomes 1, 15, 18, X and Y. In sperm cells of males with low-quality semen, the mean rate of disomy for each of the autosomes and of hetero-disomy for the sex chromosomes (XY) was significantly higher than that observed in the high-quality semen samples: more than 15-fold higher for chromosomes 1 and 15, and 7-fold higher for chromosomes 18 and XY. Yet, the homo-disomy rate for each of the sex chromosomes (XX and YY) was almost the same in both types of semen. The large discrepancy between the low- and high-quality semen in the rate of sex chromosome hetero-disomy versus the similar rate of homo-disomy strongly suggests that the abnormal chromosomal segregation in meiocytes of males with low-quality semen resulted from chromosomal nondisjunction at the first meiotic division. The results indicate that men showing poor semen quality are at an increased risk for meiotic nondisjunction, similar to women at the end of their reproductive years.

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Received: 30 June 1997 / Accepted: 17 September 1997

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Finkelstein, S., Mukamel, E., Yavetz, H. et al. Increased rate of nondisjunction in sex cells derived from low-quality semen. Hum Genet 102, 129–137 (1998).

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  • Sperm Cell
  • Varicocele
  • Chromosomal Segregation
  • Meiotic Division