Journal Article

Epigenetic Alterations in Sperm DNA Associated with Testicular Cancer Treatment

Donovan Chan, Géraldine Delbès, Mylène Landry, Bernard Robaire and Jacquetta M. Trasler

in Toxicological Sciences

Volume 125, issue 2, pages 532-543
Published in print February 2012 | ISSN: 1096-6080
Published online November 2011 | e-ISSN: 1096-0929 | DOI:
Epigenetic Alterations in Sperm DNA Associated with Testicular Cancer Treatment

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DNA methylation, a key component of the epigenome involved in regulating gene expression, is initially acquired in the germ line at millions of sites across the genome. Altered sperm methylation patterns are associated with infertility and transgenerational effects in humans and rodents. Testicular cancer is the most common form of cancer among men of reproductive age and has a high cure rate associated with chemotherapy treatment with bleomycin, etoposide, and cis-platinum (BEP). Although these drugs result in improved survival, they also affect the number and quality of germ cells. Our goal was to assess germ cell methylation patterns in a rodent model emulating the BEP treatment regimens used in human testicular cancer treatment. Animals were treated with control, or 0.3× (low) or 0.6× (high) dose of BEP, where a 1× dose is equivalent to human treatment regimens. Both dose-dependent and germ cell–dependent DNA methylation alterations were found at numerous loci throughout the genome. Of about 3000 loci tested, 42 loci were affected by BEP at the round spermatid stage of germ cell development, whereas 101 loci were affected in spermatozoa; 15 loci were consistently altered in spermatozoa of all high dose–treated rats. Both hyper- and hypomethylation were detected, suggesting either an interference with normal methylation patterning or abnormal repair of damaged patterns during spermatogenesis. The results indicate that a combination chemotherapy regimen used for testicular cancer treatment can result in altered DNA methylation patterns in spermatozoa and that some loci are more susceptible to damage than others.

Keywords: epigenetics; DNA methylation; BEP; testicular cancer

Journal Article.  6822 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medical Toxicology ; Toxicology (Non-medical)

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