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- To manage male infertility caused by hormonal imbalance, infections and other predicaments, multifarious treatment strategies are emerging worldwide. Contemporary treatments, such as assisted reproductive techniques, are costly with low success rates of only 10–30%; however, herbal remedies are gaining more attention as an alternative or supplementary therapeutic modality for male infertility. The beneficial effects induced by oral intake of the roots of a small evergreen shrub, Withania sominifera (Ashwagandha) on semen quality of infertile men have previously been studied.
- Spermatogenesis is a complex process of proliferation and differentiation during male germ cell development involving mitosis, meiosis and spermiogenesis. Endogenous and exogenous physical, chemical and biological sources modify the genome of spermatozoa. The genomic integrity and stability of the sperm is protected by DNA repair mechanisms. In the male germline cells, DNA repair mechanisms include nucleotide excision repair, base excision repair, DNA mismatch repair, double strand break repair and post-replication repair.
- Oxidative stress has been established as one of the main causes of male infertility and has been implicated in many diseases associated with infertile men. It results from high concentrations of free radicals and suppressed antioxidant potential, which may alter protein expression in seminal plasma and/or spermatozoa. In recent years, proteomic analyses have been performed to characterize the protein profiles of seminal ejaculate from men with different clinical conditions, such as high oxidative stress.
- Oocyte development is the end result of a sophisticated biological process that is hormonally regulated and produced by highly specialized cellular lines that differentiate in early embryo/fetal development. Embryo development is initially regulated by maternal transcripts until replaced by embryonic genomic expression. Then, an assortment of hormones and local environmental factors in various concentrations along the reproductive tract (e.g. fallopian tube, endometrial lining) provide the protection, nutrients and means of communication for the embryo to implant and develop.