Stuart Meyers, DVM, PhD – Anatomy, Physiology and Cell Biology

Environmental Oxidants and the Aging Male: Sperm Function and Embryo Development Age-dependent accumulation of testicular oxidative insult very likely leads to declining sperm function and fertility, cellular damage to spermatogenic stem cells, inefficiency of sperm production, inefficient mitochondrial metabolism, and mutations in nuclear and mitochondrial DNA. Paternal age has been associated with a number of diseases that have mitochondrial etiologies or components, including autism spectrum disorder, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

We hypothesize that environmental toxins that cause oxidative insult to the testis contribute to these effects. We propose studies that will utilize a highly relevant model of human reproductive health — the rhesus macaque — that will encompass testicular endocrine health, sperm function and embryo development to assess immediate post-fertilization and developmental landmarks in rhesus embryos. We will expose monkey sperm in vitro with known oxidants and assess sperm function as a necessary first step.

With pilot project funding, we propose a comprehensive study to determine specific effects on testicular and gamete health from exposures to environmental toxins, including ozone, forest fire/tobacco smoke and other oxidants.