PS Marker Male Fertility

AFRM team’s novel research on a new marker for male fertility presented at AUA meeting

Although the level of understanding in the field of male reproductive medicine has significantly advanced over the last several decades, there are still large gaps in knowledge. Even diagnosing male infertility solely based on the conventional semen analysis is controversial. Although it is an important cornerstone of male infertility evaluation, the conventional method is still considered a fairly crude indicator of a man’s fertility potential and it does not give information on the quality or fertilization capacity of the sperm cells.

 Dr. Parviz Kavoussi led the team at AFRM in running a clinical trial assessing a novel potential marker for sperms ability to fertilize an egg and how to improve it in specific men. This work is ongoing in collaboration with the PS Fertility laboratory in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The basic science researchers at PS Fertility in Charlottesville have demonstrated if sperm cells do not express phosphatidylserine (PS) on their cell membranes, they cannot fuse with and fertilize eggs. Varicoceles are abnormally dilated veins around the testicle which are found in 40% of infertile men, making them the most common correctable form of male infertility. A varicocele repair is a minor surgical procedure that Dr. Kavoussi performs week in and week out. The clinical trial at Austin Fertility and Reproductive Medicine/Westlake IVF is enrolling infertile men with varicoceles to have their sperm tested for PS expression before and after varicocele repair. The preliminary data obtained thus far was presented at the American Urological Association national meeting in San Antonio. The early results are showing that men with varicoceles have lower expression of PS on their sperm cells and following varicocele repair, the expression of PS increases suggesting that increasing PS expression may be another mechanism by which varicocele repair can make men more fertile. Dr. Kavoussi states, “This early data is extremely exciting because it may allow for us to have another tool in our toolbox to help assess infertile men with a functional test, rather than just a numerical one. As the search for finding better ways of assessing a man’s fertility in the scientific community has been slow, this may end up being the first useful clinical test we have had in years and the fact that we can continue to see if fertilization capacity of sperm can be improved through varicocele repair is extremely exciting. We believe it is critical to not only take care of the patient sitting across from us in the clinic but to contribute to the scientific research with a much wider ranging reach to help infertile patients everywhere.”