Research Article

Sperm quality and DNA damage in men from Jilin Province, China, who are occupationally exposed to ionizing radiation

Published: March 22, 2016
Genet. Mol. Res. 15(1): gmr8078 DOI: 10.4238/gmr.15018078

Abstract

Long-term radiation exposure affects human health. Ionizing radiation has long been known to raise the risk of cancer. In addition to high doses of radiation, low-dose ionizing radiation might increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, lens opacity, and some other non-cancerous diseases. Low- and high-dose exposures to ionizing radiation elicit different signaling events at the molecular level, and may involve different response mechanisms. The health risks arising from exposure to low doses of ionizing radiation should be re-evaluated. Health workers exposed to ionizing radiation experience low-dose radiation and have an increased risk of hematological malignancies. Reproductive function is sensitive to changes in the physical environment, including ionizing radiation. However, data is scarce regarding the association between occupational radiation exposure and risk to human fertility. Sperm DNA integrity is a functional parameter of male fertility evaluation. Hence, we aimed to report sperm quality and DNA damage in men from Jilin Province, China, who were occupationally exposed to ionizing radiation. Sperm motility and normal morphology were significantly lower in the exposed compared with the non-exposed men. There was no statistically significant difference in sperm concentration between exposed and non-exposed men. The sperm DNA fragmentation index was significantly higher in the exposed than the non-exposed men. Chronic long-term exposure to low doses of ionizing radiation could affect sperm motility, normal morphology, and the sperm DNA fragmentation index in the Chinese population. Sperm quality and DNA integrity are functional parameters that could be used to evaluate occupational exposure to ionizing radiation.

Long-term radiation exposure affects human health. Ionizing radiation has long been known to raise the risk of cancer. In addition to high doses of radiation, low-dose ionizing radiation might increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, lens opacity, and some other non-cancerous diseases. Low- and high-dose exposures to ionizing radiation elicit different signaling events at the molecular level, and may involve different response mechanisms. The health risks arising from exposure to low doses of ionizing radiation should be re-evaluated. Health workers exposed to ionizing radiation experience low-dose radiation and have an increased risk of hematological malignancies. Reproductive function is sensitive to changes in the physical environment, including ionizing radiation. However, data is scarce regarding the association between occupational radiation exposure and risk to human fertility. Sperm DNA integrity is a functional parameter of male fertility evaluation. Hence, we aimed to report sperm quality and DNA damage in men from Jilin Province, China, who were occupationally exposed to ionizing radiation. Sperm motility and normal morphology were significantly lower in the exposed compared with the non-exposed men. There was no statistically significant difference in sperm concentration between exposed and non-exposed men. The sperm DNA fragmentation index was significantly higher in the exposed than the non-exposed men. Chronic long-term exposure to low doses of ionizing radiation could affect sperm motility, normal morphology, and the sperm DNA fragmentation index in the Chinese population. Sperm quality and DNA integrity are functional parameters that could be used to evaluate occupational exposure to ionizing radiation.