Worldwide, almost 100 million men rely on vasectomy for male contraceptive purposes. Due to changes in their personal lives, an increasing number of these men request surgical vasectomy reversal. Unfortunately, a significant proportion of these men remain infertile, despite the reestablishment of patent ducts, possibly due to epididymal damage caused by vasectomy. In animal models, vasectomy affects different epididymal physiological and biochemical parameters. However, the consequences of vasectomy on epididymal function are poorly understood. Furthermore, results obtained with animal models cannot be extrapolated to humans to understand the consequences of vasectomy on epididymal function. Gene expression along the epididymis is highly regulated. We previously showed that the human epididymal expression pattern of two genes is altered after vasectomy. To complete the list of epididymal genes affected by vasectomy, we analyzed the epididymal gene expression pattern of three vasectomized donors using the Affymetrix human GeneChip U133 Plus 2. These results were compared with the gene expression pattern of three “normal” donors. The data generated allowed the identification of many human epididymal genes for which expression is modified after vasectomy. Quantitative (Qt)-PCR and Western blot analysis of six selected genes known to be expressed in specific epididymal segments were performed. The Qt-PCR results confirmed the selected transcripts expression pattern deduced from microarray data. However, Western blot analysis revealed some differences in protein distribution along the epididymis when compared with the encoding transcripts expression pattern. These results contribute to an understanding of the reasons why fertility is not recovered in vasovasostomized men, even though spermogram values suggest surgical success of vasectomy reversal.
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Vol. 79 • No. 2