Paternal effects on the developmental potential of human embryos have been studied since the early 1990s, particularly with respect to newly emerging assisted reproduction technologies. Both genetic and epigenetic paternal effects can influence postfertilization development and cause implantation failure or miscarriage. However, it is only over the last few years that issues related to paternal effects associated with different assisted reproduction techniques on the health status of newborn and adult progeny have been focused. At the same time, new findings point out different, yet unexplored, areas of research into the potentially responsible factors, including the activity of the sperm-derived oocyte-activating factor and the oocyte signaling pathways mediating its action, the methylation status of both imprinted and non-imprinted genes, correct replacement of sperm nuclear protamines with oocyte-derived histones, the histone acetylation status, and the function of sperm-borne small RNAs. It is increasingly important to know how these developmentally important epigenetic regulators can be altered in the context of the current micromanipulation-assisted fertilization techniques, intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and round spermatid injection (ROSI). Last but not least, transgenerational transmission of acquired, environmentally conditioned disorders from fathers to offspring is a newly emerging issue which warrants further research.
Part of the book: Innovations In Assisted Reproduction Technology