To evaluate the association of variants related to spermatogenesis with susceptibility to Chinese idiopathic nonobstructive azoospermia (NOA), seventeen tag single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in CREM, ACT, KIF17b, and SPAG8 were analyzed in 361 NOA patients and 368 controls by Sequenom iplex technology. The results showed that two CREM SNPs, rs4934540 and rs22954152, were significantly associated with NOA and played protective roles against the disease (P value with Bonferroni correction = 0.00017, odds ratio [OR] = 0.624 and P = 0.012, OR = 0.686, respectively). Haplotype analysis of CREM gene variants suggested that haplotype CGTG of the SNPs, rs4934540, rs2295415, rs11592356, and rs1148247, exhibited significant protective effect against the occurrence of NOA (P = 0.001, OR = 0.659). The haplotype TATG conferred a significantly increased risk of NOA (P = 0.011, OR = 1.317). Furthermore, making use of quantitative RT-PCR, we demonstrated that relative mRNA expression of CREM in NOA patients with maturation arrest was only one-third of that in the controls with normal spermatogenesis (P < 0.0001). Our findings indicated that the polymorphisms of CREM gene were associated with NOA in the Chinese population and low CREM expression might be involved in the pathogenesis of spermatogenesis maturation arrest.
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Vol. 91 • No. 2