Cordelli, E., Fresegna, A. M., Leter, G., Eleuteri, P., Spanò, M. and Villani, P. Evaluation of DNA Damage in Different Stages of Mouse Spermatogenesis after Testicular X Irradiation. Radiat. Res. 160, 443–451 (2003).
To evaluate whether DNA alterations in mature spermatozoa could stem from DNA damage induced in immature germ cells, testis cells and spermatozoa were analyzed by the comet assay and by the sperm chromatin structure assay 14, 45 and 100 days after in vivo X irradiation of the testes. These times were selected, according to the mouse seminiferous epithelium cycle, to follow the DNA damage induced in different germ cell compartments. The cytotoxic action was assessed by DNA flow cytometric analysis of testicular cells. A dose-dependent increase of DNA damage in testis cells was observed 14 days after irradiation, whereas mature sperm cells were not affected. On the other hand, an increase in DNA strand breaks was seen in spermatozoa 45 days after treatment. DNA damage returned to the control levels 100 days after irradiation. The methods used to evaluate DNA damage gave comparable results, emphasizing the correlation between DNA fragmentation and susceptibility of sperm chromatin to denaturation. Both techniques showed the high radiosensitivity of differentiating spermatogonia. The overall results showed that DNA damage induced in pre-meiotic germ cells is detectable in primary spermatocytes and is still present in mature spermatozoa.