We have identified several serum proteins that vary between men with normal and impaired sperm production. We are currently using proteomic methods to identify whether these proteins may be useful as a marker for cellular processes in the testis, such as germ cell differentiation. If successful, we hope to develop a diagnostic test for testicular function, which would offer patients a less invasive option to current biopsy test.
We have identified several serum protein markers that may reflect cellular processes, such as germ cell differentiation or response to hormones. We are currently working to determine their suitability for use in basic and clinical research in andrology and in the development of less invasive testing of testicular function.
For example, in male infertility, serum FSH and inhibin B are imperfect markers of spermatogenesis that give no insight into the type of spermatogenic defect. Precise markers would facilitate improved clinical diagnosis and treatment.
In male hormonal contraception, markers are needed that reflect the type and extent of germ cell inhibition by FSH/LH suppression (eg. specific to spermiation or meiosis) or in response to new agents. Tissue-specific markers of androgenic action (eg. bone, muscle, and metabolism) would permit individualised monitoring and facilitate evaluation of selective androgen response modulators.
We propose that such markers will be identifiable in settings relevant to male reproductive health.
We are using proteomics technologies to identify protein markers of gonadotrophin action, spermatogenesis and androgen action, and assess their potential relevance to clinical practice.
We will collect serum from clinical and experimental subjects including:
- control vs. gonadotrophin deficient men (pituitary failure), and in response to recombinant FSH and LH treatment,
- infertile men with specific histological spermatogenic defects, such as germ cell arrest or Sertoli cell only syndrome,
- Klinefelter’s syndrome, before and after androgen replacement,
- men undergoing gonadotrophin suppression for male hormonal contraception.