Our central research focus is the investigation of the interface among toxicants, genes, the epigenome and reproductive outcome. Evidence has been accumulating in recent years that the exposure to environmental components and drugs causes reproductive disorders in human population. However, the mechanisms by which such chemicals induce disorders in male fertility and in male germ cells have not been resolved.
Effect of estrogenic compounds on testicular development and adult fertility.
This research will be based on the demonstration that there is a period of increased sensitivity during fetal development of germ cells and that if these cells are exposed at this time there is an increase in reproductive abnormalities and potential the future generations. Epigenetic mechanisms may be involved and their study is one of the research priorities. The research focuses on 4 objectives:
- Characterization of histone changes in fetal gonads
- Effect of Low Doses of Estrogen Cocktails on the Development of the Fetal Testicle
- Effect of estrogen on gene expression, histone changes, and methylation of DNA in gonocytes
- Long-term effect of estrogen exposure during fetal life on adult fertility
Effect of chemotherapy on the development of male germ cells.
Alkylating agents used for chemotherapy may alter differentiation of germ cells inducing male infertility. Treatments in adults induce a decrease in the production of good quality mature spermatozoa in terms of motility, morphology and genetic integrity. These phenomena may be reversible but no prediction markers are currently available. The only method of preserving fertility for these patients is therefore the cryopreservation of the spermatozoa before treatment. But what about pre-pubertal children, unable to produce sperm? Our research aims to identify fertility biomarkers and evaluate the impact of chemotherapy on the immature testis. Our research is organized according to 3 axes:
- Male polymorphism and fertility after chemotherapy
- Impact of alkylating agents on spermatogonia
- Study of the quality of the spermatozoa after pre- or post-puberty treatment