Clinical Evaluation of a Custom Gene Panel as a Tool for Precision Male Infertility Diagnosis by Next-Generation Sequencing

Clinical Evaluation of a Custom Gene Panel as a Tool for Precision Male Infertility Diagnosis by Next-Generation Sequencing

Background: Up to 15% of couples are infertile and male factor infertility accounts for approximately 50% of these cases. Male infertility is a multifactorial pathological condition.
The genetic of male infertility is very complex and at least 2000 genes are involved in its etiology.
Genetic testing by next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies can be relevant for its diagnostic value in male infertile patients. Therefore, the aim of this study was to implement the diagnostic o er with the use of an NGS panel for the identification of genetic variants. Methods: We developed an NGS gene panel that we used in 22 male infertile patients. The panel consisted of 110 genes exploring the genetic causes of male infertility; namely spermatogenesis failure due to single-gene mutations, central hypogonadism, androgen insensitivity syndrome, congenital hypopituitarism, and primary ciliary dyskinesia. Results: NGS and a subsequent sequencing of the positive pathogenic or likely pathogenic variants, 5 patients (23%) were found to have a molecular defect. In particular, pathogenic variants were identified in TEX11, CCDC39, CHD7, and NR5A1 genes. Moreover,
14 variants of unknown significance and 7 novel variants were found that require further functional studies and family segregation. Conclusion: This extended NGS-based diagnostic approach may represent a useful tool for the diagnosis of male infertility. The development of a custom-made gene panel by NGS seems capable of reducing the proportion of male idiopathic infertility.