Age and Oxidative Stress in the Germ Line

Bernard Robaire, Catriona Paul, and Johanna Selvaratnam

Abstract There is increasing evidence that the male reproductive system declines with advancing age Studies examining germ cells of older men have raised concerns regarding several aspects of germ cell quality. Increasing paternal age has been linked to genetic diseases (achondroplasia, Apert syndrome, and Marfan syndrome) in the offspring of these fathers; the incidence of autism and schizophrenia is also associated with increasing paternal age. Men above the age of 35 have increased incidences of anneuploidy in their sperm, decreased sperm motility, and increased chromatin aberrations in sperm associated with further problems such as decreased pregnancy rate in the partners of older males. In several tissues, aging is associated with oxidative stress. Rodent studies show that aging male germ cells display an increase in reactive oxygen species (ROS) and a reduction in the antioxidant enzymes normally present to neutralize ROS and protect the cellular structures against ROS-induced damage. This oxidative stress may be the cause of the DNA damage seen in the germ cells and could also have an effect at the stem cell level resulting in reduced germ cell quality with age.

Keywords Immune theory of aging • Telomere theory of aging • Oxidative stress theory of aging • Aging and male fertility • Germ stem cells • DNA damage and repair

B. Robaire, PhD (*) ♦ C. Paul, PhD ♦ J. Selvaratnam, MSc

Departments of Pharmacology and Therapeutics and of Obstetrics and Gynecology, McGill University and the MUHC-RI, 3655 Promenade Sir William Osler, Montréal, QC, Canada H3G 1Y6 e-mail: [email protected]

A. Agarwal et al. (eds.), Studies on Men's Health and Fertility, Oxidative Stress 131

in Applied Basic Research and Clinical Practice, DOI 10.1007/978-1-61779-776-7_7, © Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

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