Effects of diabetes-induced hyperglycemia on epigenetic modifications and DNA packaging and methylation during spermatogenesis; A narrative review

Document Type : Review Article


1 Department of Surgery, Division of Urology, Human Reproduction Section, São Paulo Federal University, São Paulo, Brazil

2 Department of Anatomy and UMIB - Unit for Multidisciplinary Research in Biomedicine, ICBAS - School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal


The impact of diabetes on various organs failure including testis has been highlighted during the last decades. If on one hand diabetes-induced hyperglycemia has a key role in induced damages; on the other hand, glucose deprivation plays a key role in inducing male infertility. Indeed, glucose metabolism during spermatogenesis has been highlighted due to post-meiotic germ cells drastic dependence on glucose-derived metabolites, especially lactate. In fact, hyperglycemia-induced spermatogenesis arrest has been demonstrated in various studies. Moreover, various sperm maturation processes related to sperm function such as motility are directly depending on glucose metabolism in Sertoli cells. It has been demonstrated that diabetes-induced hyperglycemia adversely impacts sperm morphology, motility and DNA integrity, leading to infertility. However, fertility quality is another important factor to be considered. Diabetes-induced hyperglycemia is not only impacting sperm functions, but also affecting sperm epigenome.  DNA packing process and epigenetics modifications occur during spermatogenesis process, determining next generation genetic quality transmitted through sperm. Critical damages may occur due to under- or downregulation of key proteins during spermatogenesis. Consequently, unpacked DNA is more exposed to oxidative stress, leading to intensive DNA damages. Moreover, epigenetic dysregulation occurred during spermatogenesis may impact embryo quality and be transmitted to next generations, increasing offspring genetic issues. Herein we discuss the mechanisms by which diabetes-induced hyperglycemia can affect epigenetic modifications and DNA packaging and methylation during spermatogenesis thus promoting long-lasting effects to the next generation. 


Main Subjects

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