Autophagy Related Genes Expression Status in Patients Diagnosed with Azoospermia: A Cross-Sectional Study.

The autophagy affects various aspects of the male reproductive system. Any defects in this process may lead to azoospermia. However, the exact molecular mechanisms of autophagy pathway have remained largely obscure. Therefore, the present study aims to investigate the levels of autophagy pathway genes expression (i.e. Lc3B, Beclin1, ATG5 and Bcl2) in azoospermic patients.

The levels of Lc3B, Beclin1, ATG5 and Bcl2 mRNA expression in azoospermic patients and fertile males were evaluated by Real-Time PCR technique. Furthermore, diagnostic evaluation based on the receiver-operating characteristic (ROC) curve was performed.

Our results showed the decreased expression of Lc3B, Beclin1 and ATG5 genes in infertile patients compared to the control group (p<0.05) while Bcl2 expression was increased in samples (p<0.05). A diagnostic evaluation by ROC curve and calculation of AUC showed that the using cutoff relative quantification of 4.550, 0.052, 0.056 and 0.012, sensitivity of Lc3B, Beclin1, ATG5 and Bcl2 genes were 87.5%, 93.8%, 93.8% and 90% respectively. Also, specificity of 76.7%, 76.7%, 93.3% and 81.2% respectively, were observed.

As the first study, the current research suggests that the alteration in expression of autophagy pathway genes may be associated with the male infertility. Based on our finding the increased expression of Bcl2 and formation of Becline1/Bcl2 complex, which inhibits Beclin1 recruitment may lead to decrease of the autophagy process in azoospermic patients. Accordingly, upon further investigations, the autophagy could be considered as an important aspect during spermatogenesis.

The journal of gene medicine. 2020 Jan 15 [Epub ahead of print]

Rezvan Asgari, Mitra Bakhtiari, Davood Rezazadeh, Asad Vaisi-Raygani, Kamran Mansouri

Medical Biology Research Center, Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences, Kermanshah, Iran.