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Spermatozoïdes, environnement et prévention

Spermatozoon, environment and prevention


Au cours des 50 dernières années, les facteurs de risque conduisant à l’infertilité ont nettement augmenté, surtout ceux liés à l’environnement. La spermatogénèse et les spermatozoïdes sont susceptibles d’être affectés par des agents physiques et chimiques, toxiques ou médicamenteux, mais aussi par des facteurs naturels comme le stress ou l’âge paternel. Ce dernier facteur et les précédents peuvent évidemment être intriqués. Leur ensemble aboutit à une baisse de la fertilité masculine et il est ainsi possible de définier des populations à risque.

Ces altérations de la spermatogénèse peuvent en outre entraîner des anomalies chez la progéniture tels qu’avortements précoces, chute du poids de naissance, syndromes autosomiques dominants aboutissant à des malformations ou à des troubles fonctionnels, en particulier comportementaux, troubles de la spermatogénèse analogues à ceux présentés par le pére, leucémies etc.

De telles données devraient conduire à un renforcement de la prévention et au dépistage de l’hypofertilité avent la trentaine.


Over the last fivty years, the risk factors for infertility have increased substantially, particularly those due to the environment. Spermatogenesis and spermatozoa can be affected by physical (ionizing radiation microwaves, heat, cryopreservation) or chemical agents (antimitotics drugs, antibiotics, tranquillizers, insecticides, pesticides, industrial solvants, some heavy metals, alcohol, cannabis etc.). Some natural factors, as stress or paternal age (ageing or very youthful age relatively to about thirty) also seems to affect spermatogenesis and, particularly, the age can be joined with the previous ones. On the whole, these factors are able to decrease the male fertility through some changes about the concentration, the motility or the morphology of spermatozoa and so it is possible to describe populations subject to the risk.

Moreover, these spermatogenetic changes can lead abnormalities in progeny. For instance, some antimitotic drugs as cyclophosphamide, when administrated to the male rat, lead malformations or functional anomalies as behavioral troubles. The industrial solvents lead a decrease of the birth weight and the cannabis leads an increase of the ante-or post-natal death. Moreover, the change of the paternal spermatogenesis caused by cannabis can be found again in the male progeny. The problem is similar with the lead, the benzodiazepines and the alcohol.

Concerning the physical factors, some authors have shown that the children born from radiation exposed fathers presented an increase of the probability of leukemia. In animal, the postimplantation loss is increased when the father is irradiated or subjected to heat before mating.

Finally, the paternal ageing is responsible for new dominant autosomic mutations. Moreover, in animal and man, paternal ageing and, in man, very youthful age, also seems responsible for a gradual lowering in the level of progency cerebral functions.

On the whole, these data should lead to an preventive attitude which would be more effective before about thirty years of age than after this period.


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Auroux, M., Dulioust, E. & Fendeux, D. Spermatozoïdes, environnement et prévention. Androl. 4, 13–21 (1994).

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Mots clés

  • spermatozoïde
  • environnement
  • fertilité
  • progéniture
  • prévention


  • spermatozoon
  • environment
  • fertility
  • progeny
  • prevention