Routine cryopreservation of spermatozoa is safe--evidence from the DNA methylation pattern of nine spermatozoa genes.
PURPOSE: Assess short- and mid-term impact of cryopreservation on DNA methylation status of different genes in spermatozoa. METHODS: Semen samples from 10 healthy normozoospermic men were collected at the Department of Clinical Andrology of the Centre of Reproductive Medicine and Andrology (Muenster, Germany). Each was divided into four equal aliquots: 1) untreated, 2) diluted in cryoprotectant, 3) short term (2 days) cryopreserved and 4) mid term (4 weeks) cryopreserved. Samples were 'swim-up' purified prior to analysis. DNA fragmentation was measured using comet assay and Flow cytometric evaluation with Acridine Orange (FCEAO). The degree of methylation of nine genes was determined by bisulfite pyrosequencing of genomic DNA. RESULT(S): Analysis of three maternally imprinted genes (LIT1, SNRPN, MEST), two paternally imprinted genes (MEG3, H19), two repetitive elements (ALU, LINE1), one spermatogenesis-specific gene (VASA) and one gene associated with male infertility (MTHFR) in semen samples demonstrated no alteration in methylation pattern regardless of duration of cryopreservation. CONCLUSION(S): The lack of any changes in the sub-fraction of the genome examined in our study, implies that sperm DNA methylation is unaffected by cryopreservation and suggests that this daily clinical routine is safe in terms of DNA methylation.