Towards Understanding Male Infertility After Spinal Cord Injury Using Quantitative Proteomics
The study of male infertility after spinal cord injury (SCI) has enhanced the understanding of seminal plasma (SP) as an important regulator of spermatozoa function. However, the most important factors leading to the diminished sperm motility and viability observed in semen of men with SCI remained unknown. Thus, to explore SP related molecular mechanisms underlying infertility after SCI, we used mass spectrometry-based quantitative proteomics to compare SP retrieved from SCI patients to normal controls. As a result, we present an in-depth characterization of the human SP proteome, identifying ∼2,800 individual proteins, and describe, in detail, the differential proteome observed in SCI. Our analysis demonstrates that a hyper-activation of the immune system may influence some seminal processes, which likely are not triggered by microbial infection. Moreover, we show evidence of an important prostate gland functional failure, i.e. diminished abundance of metabolic enzymes related to ATP turnover and those secreted via prostasomes. Further we identify the main outcome related to this fact and that it is intrinsically linked to the low sperm motility in SCI. Together, our data highlights the molecular pathways hindering fertility in SCI and shed new light on other causes of male infertility.