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Volume 18, Issue 1 (January 2016) 18, 43–53; 10.4103/1008-682X.153848

Spermatozoa protein alterations in infertile men with bilateral varicocele

Ashok Agarwal, Rakesh Sharma, Damayanthi Durairajanayagam, Zhihong Cui, Ahmet Ayaz, Sajal Gupta, Belinda Willard, Banu Gopalan, Edmund Sabanegh

Center for Reproductive Medicine, Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH, USA,
Center for Reproductive Medicine, Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH, USA; Faculty of Medicine, MARA University of Technology, Selangor, Malaysia,
Lerner Research Institute, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH, USA,

Correspondence: Dr. A Agarwal (agarwaa@ccf.org)



Among infertile men, a diagnosis of unilateral varicocele is made in 90% of varicocele cases and bilateral in the remaining varicocele cases. However, there are reports of under-diagnosis of bilateral varicocele among infertile men and that its prevalence is greater than 10%. In this prospective study, we aimed to examine the differentially expressed proteins (DEP) extracted from spermatozoa cells of patients with bilateral varicocele and fertile donors. Subjects consisted of 17 men diagnosed with bilateral varicocele and 10 proven fertile men as healthy controls. Using the LTQ-orbitrap elite hybrid mass spectrometry system, proteomic analysis was done on pooled samples from 3 patients with bilateral varicocele and 5 fertile men. From these samples, 73 DEP were identified of which 58 proteins were differentially expressed, with 7 proteins unique to the bilateral varicocele group and 8 proteins to the fertile control group. Majority of the DEPs were observed to be associated with metabolic processes, stress responses, oxidoreductase activity, enzyme regulation, and immune system processes. Seven DEP were involved in sperm function such as capacitation, motility, and sperm-zona binding. Proteins TEKT3 and TCP11 were validated by Western blot analysis and may serve as potential biomarkers for bilateral varicocele. In this study, we have demonstrated for the first time the presence of DEP and identified proteins with distinct reproductive functions which are altered in infertile men with bilateral varicocele. Functional proteomic profiling provides insight into the mechanistic implications of bilateral varicocele-associated male infertility.

Keywords: bilateral varicocele; bioinformatics; male infertility; proteomics; spermatozoa proteins; varicocele

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