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Role of caspases in male infertility

, : Role of caspases in male infertility. Human Reproduction Update 10(1): 39-51

Apoptosis is characterized by a variety of changes resulting in the recognition and phagocytosis of apoptotic cells. Caspases (cysteinyl aspartate-specific proteinases) play a central role in the regulation of apoptosis in the human seminiferous epithelium. They are expressed as inactive proenzymes and participate in a cascade triggered in response to pro-apoptotic signals. To date, 14 caspases have been implicated in the human apoptotic pathway cascade. Among these, caspase-3 is considered to be a major executioner protease. Since apoptosis is a universal suicide system in almost all cells, a close control via molecular, endocrine and physical factors establishes homeostasis of cell growth and death. The proper regulation of the caspase cascade plays an important role in sperm differentiation and testicular maturity. However, caspases have been implicated in the pathogenesis of multiple andrological pathologies such as impaired spermatogenesis, decreased sperm motility and increased levels of sperm DNA fragmentation, testicular torsion, varicocele and immunological infertility. Future research may provide a better understanding of the regulation of caspases, which may help us to manipulate the apoptotic machinery for therapeutic benefits. In this review, we summarize the consequences of caspase activation, aiming to clarify their role in the pathogenesis of male infertility.


PMID: 15005463

DOI: 10.1093/humupd/dmh003

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