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Impact of capacitation failure in human sperm and the identification of capacitation biomarkers in male infertility

Despite continuous research in reproductive biology, the prevalence of couple infertility has not decreased over the last two decades . A male contribution is found in half of the couples seeking medical care. The WHO established a standardized scheme for the evaluation of the male partner but the conventional semen analysis is considered a poor predicator of pregnancies.
Despite the importance of an efficient completion of the capacitation process to achieve an oocyte fertilization, its evaluation has not yet been included in the clinical investigation of male infertility.
The clinical part of this project aims to develop an assay to evaluate the ability of sperm to capacitate by the measurements of several of its hallmarks: the membrane potential and intracellular calcium concentration on human sperm samples in conditions inducing capacitation in vitro. We will evaluate the correlation between the changes in membrane potential (hyperpolarization) and intracellular calcium concentration induced by in vitro capacitation and the fertility potential of the patient.
The overall aim of the project is to identify patients with impaired capacitation process and correlate these parameters with their fertility potential. The development of this assay is intended to help the clinician in the diagnosis of the male infertility and direct the choice of ART to the most appropriate and effective one, sparing to the patient the burden of repeated failures and the cost of ineffective treatments. We started in 2019 a collaboration with the Andrology Lab of Erasme Hospital directed towards the development of new clinical tools to precise the diagnosis of male infertility. We are expanding the study to develop innovative functional test to study the origin of the detrimental effect of the freezing/thawing on sperm quality, in an attempt to identify “cryosensitive” sperm sample and “freezability” prediction tools but also to deliver original options to improve the quality of cryopreserved sperm samples.