The pathogenic relationship between the presence of Y chromosomal microdeletions and male infertility is unclear. Nevertheless, a causal relationship is thought to be probable when loci are shown to be deleted in infertile males but are present in fertile males. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis of the Y chromosome is now routinely performed in the evaluation of the infertile male, although, until recently, there has been no consensus on how the diagnosis should be performed and which loci or markers should be analysed. The European Academy of Andrology (EAA) published guidelines for the molecular diagnosis of Y chromosomal microdeletions in 1999. Following these guidelines, our laboratory developed assays that incorporated the suggested primer pairs for the recommended Sequence Tagged Sites (STS). A number of fertile (n = 117), infertile (n = 17) and unknown samples (n = 20) were tested in our laboratory as part of the validation to provide a clinical assay. Two multiplex PCR assays were optimized, each of which examined STS markers in the centre of the AZFa, b and c regions of the Y chromosome. We correctly identified all but one of the 154 samples (according to the expected result based on fertility or previous testing at another laboratory). A single equivocal result was observed for a sample obtained from a known fertile male who appeared to be deleted for a single marker, sY84, in the AZFa region but not the adjacent marker, sY86. Follow-up analysis showed that proximal and distal markers within the same region (sY82 and sY98) were also present. Sequencing the region flanking and including the sY84 primer set revealed a single base alteration under the reverse primer, which probably caused the amplification failure. Furthermore, the sY84 sequence itself was present, as was the flanking sequence 50 bp on either side of both primers. This observation underlines the importance of using at least two closely linked STS markers for the reliable diagnosis of Y chromosome microdeletions as proposed by the EAA guidelines.
- Male factor infertility
- Multiplex polymerase chain reaction
- Y chromosome