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The aim of this study was to compare the sperm protein expression profile (proteome map) from a patient who experienced failed fertilization at IVF with fertile controls. One patient and three fertile donor sperm samples were characterized using two-dimensional electrophoresis. Differences in protein expression were established using gel analysis software before attempted protein identification. Gel analysis of the fertile donor proteome maps revealed excellent reproducibility as well as very low intra-donor and inter-donor variability in the presence of protein spots. In the patient samples, we have noted 20 consistent differences in protein expression (six spots missing, three additional spots, four less abundant, seven more abundant) compared with the controls. Two proteins that were more intense in the patient have been conclusively identified as secretory actin-binding protein and outer dense fibre protein 2/2. In conclusion proteome variation between different fertile donors was very low. In contrast, the patient proteome exhibited 20 differences compared with controls, which we believe is an underestimate. These proteins merit further investigation to determine whether failed fertilization at IVF might be caused by abnormalities in their expression. This case report represents a proof of principle that proteomics may be useful to study defects in sperm function.

Original publication




Journal article


Hum Reprod

Publication Date





1438 - 1447


Case-Control Studies, Fertility, Fertilization in Vitro, Humans, Infertility, Male, Male, Proteomics, Spermatozoa, Tissue Donors, Treatment Failure