Sperm DNA methylome abnormalities occur both pre- and post-treatment in men with Hodgkin disease and testicular cancer.

Combination chemotherapy has contributed to increased survival from Hodgkin disease (HD) and testicular cancer (TC). However, questions concerning the quality of spermatozoa after treatment have arisen. While studies have shown evidence of DNA damage and aneuploidy in spermatozoa years following anticancer treatment, the sperm epigenome has received little attention. Our objectives here were to determine the impact of HD and TC, as well as their treatments, on sperm DNA methylation. Semen samples were collected from community controls (CC) and from men undergoing treatment for HD or TC, both before initiation of chemotherapy and at multiple times post-treatment. Sperm DNA methylation was assessed using genome-wide and locus-specific approaches.

Imprinted gene methylation was not affected in the sperm of HD or TC men, before or after treatment. Prior to treatment, using Illumina HumanMethylation450 BeadChip (450 K) arrays, a subset of 500 probes was able to distinguish sperm samples from TC, HD and CC subjects; differences between groups persisted post-treatment. Comparing altered sperm methylation between HD or TC patients versus CC men, twice as many sites were affected in TC versus HD men; for both groups, the most affected CpGs were hypomethylated. For TC patients, the promoter region of GDF2 contained the largest region of differential methylation. To assess alterations in DNA methylation over time/post-chemotherapy, serial samples from individual patients were compared. With restriction landmark genome scanning and 450 K array analyses, some patients who underwent chemotherapy showed increased alterations in DNA methylation, up to 2 to 3 years post-treatment, when compared to the CC cohort. Similarly, a higher-resolution human sperm-specific assay that includes assessment of environmentally sensitive regions, or "dynamic sites," also demonstrated persistently altered sperm DNA methylation in cancer patients post-treatment and suggested preferential susceptibility of "dynamic" CpG sites.

Distinct sperm DNA methylation signatures were present pre-treatment in men with HD and TC and may help explain increases in birth defects reported in recent clinical studies. Epigenetic defects in spermatozoa of some cancer survivors were evident even up to 2 years post-treatment. Abnormalities in the sperm epigenome both pre- and post-chemotherapy may contribute to detrimental effects on future reproductive health.

Clinical epigenetics. 2023 Jan 07*** epublish ***

Donovan Chan, Kathleen Oros Klein, Antoni Riera-Escamilla, Csilla Krausz, Cristian O'Flaherty, Peter Chan, Bernard Robaire, Jacquetta M Trasler

Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, 1001 Décarie Boul. Block E, Montréal, QC, Canada., Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research, Jewish General Hospital, Montréal, QC, Canada., Andrology Department, Fundació Puigvert, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas Sant Pau (IIB-Sant Pau), Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain., Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, McGill University, Montréal, QC, Canada., Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, 1001 Décarie Boul. Block E, Montréal, QC, Canada. .