The VIIth ICA took place in Montreal, Canada, on June 15-19, 2001. It was the first Andrology meeting of the XXIst Century and the second in the Americas. The meeting was very successful, with a record registration of about 1000 participants. The nomination of Montreal as the host city was the result of the combined effort of various countries of the Americas (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela), that supported the initiative of the American Society of Andrology and the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society. In the words of J. Lisa Tenover M.D., Ph.D., president of the ASA at the time of the meeting, the Local Organizing Committee chaired by Carlos R. Morales D.M.V, PhD., “spent literally years of effort in planning and preparation to assure that the meeting run smoothly, that the physical arrangements are superb, and that the social events are enjoyable occasions where new and old acquaintances can be fostered”. The Program Organizing Committee was appointed by the International Society of Andrology and chaired by Héctor E. Chemes, M.D., Ph.D. The scientific program was the result of the hard work of the POC that benefited from the generous feed back from numerous colleagues who contributed their input and from the enthusiastic collaboration of more than 80 invited speakers and session chairpersons. It was organized into 7 Plenary Sessions, 18 Symposia, 9 workshops and 2 Postgraduate Courses.
The main scientific program opened with the Serono Plenary Lecture on Stem Cells, Germ Cell Engineering and Cloning. The key-note speaker was John Gearhart PhD from Johns Hopkins University (USA) who summarized his pioneering work on the derivation of pluripotent human stem cells from cultured primordial germ cells. He described the characterization of these cell lines in culture, their origin, growing characteristics, cell markers and potentials for differentiation to different human tissues. His presentation was dramatically underscored by his vivid video-depiction of experiments on restoration of nerve and muscular function by injection of neuronally differentiated stem cells to mice whose spinal cord neurons had been experimentally destroyed. The future prospects of this technology for therapeutic use in a variety of human diseases was addressed. He also elaborated on the scientific and ethical debate that this rapidly evolving field of research has triggered. This opening Plenary session was chaired by Héctor E. Chemes, M.D., Ph.D. (Argentina).
The second Plenary Lecture “Getting the Right Genes and the Right Chromosomes: The Genetics of Spermatogenesis” was given by Mary-Ann Handel Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee. Dr. Handel presented a detailed description of the gene activation that occurs throughout the development of the spermatozoon. She focused on the modification and packaging of the genome during meiosis as well as on the assembly of structural components required for fertilization. A major emphasis was placed on the molecular control of meiosis that is essential for the genetic quality of gametes. Dr. Handel concluded that sequencing of mammalian genomes, emphasis on functional genomics and mutagenic analysis will provide the tools for future growth of knowledge on the role of meiosis during spermatogenesis. The session was chaired by Benard Robaire Ph.D. (Canada) and sponsored by Women in Andrology (ASA).
The Ernst Schering Research Foundation sponsored Plenary 3 on “Androgen action: old views, new insights and unsolved mysteries” was given by A. Brinkmann Ph.D. from Erasmus University Rotterdam (The Netherlands), and chaired by Ilpo Huhtaniemi, M.D., Ph.D. (Finland). The speaker presented up-to-date views about molecular biology and function of the androgen receptor and indicated that binding by the cognate receptor results in two consecutive conformational changes. The receptor uses different transactivation domains whose functions are strongly dependent on coactivators and interaction between the domains depending on the status of ligand binding. It was stressed that the androgen receptor suffers post-translational changes during receptor activation.
Wayne J G Hellstrom MD, from Tulane University (USA) delivered Plenary 4 on “Advances in Male Sexual Dysfunction”. The session was sponsored by Lilly ICOS and chaired by Christina Wang MD (USA). Dr Hellstrom introduced the topic by describing the regulation of erectile function through initiators and conditioners acting centrally (apomorphine, melanocyte stimulating hormone, testosterone) or peripherally (prostaglandin E1, papaverine, sildenafil, gene therapy). Current therapies of erectile dysfunction including the phosphodiesterase V inhibitors, apomorphine and melanocyte stimulating hormone were reviewed. He then described recent studies on experiments performed in his laboratory using local gene therapy for erectile dysfunction including endothelial nitric oxide synthase and calcitonin gene related peptide.
Hermann Tournaye M.D., Ph.D. (Brussels Free University, Belgium) was the American Society of Andrology Plenary lecturer on “Treating male infertility by ART / ICSI”. It was indicated that the choice between various methods is often based on the quality of the ejaculate or the source of the gametes. IUI may be choosen as the first step when enough spermatozoa can be harvested. After 6 unsuccessful cycles of IUI, IVF should be considered. The choice between IVF and ICSI is difficult since performing three ICSI treatments can prevent one complete fertilization failure even in cases with borderline semen characteristics. When less than one million motile sperm can be recovered, ICSI is the treatment of choice. This session was chaired by Daniel Franken, Ph.D. (South Africa).
John B. McKinlay, PhD from the New England Research Institutes (USA) delivered Plenary Lecture 6, sponsored by Alza Pharmaceutical, on “The Epidemiology of Hypogonadism: its Magnitude, Clinical correlates and Social Significance”. Fred Wu M.D. (UK) chaired the session. Dr McKinlay reviewed the history of this syndrome and assessed the methodological adequacy of many of studies to date. The way testosterone is measured and the cut-off values employed were shown to affect results. The Massachusetts Male Aging Study, a prospective cohort of over 1000 aging men, gave significant results on the prevalence of hypogonadism, evolution over the older age span, major clinical correlates and social policy implications.
The American Urological Association sponsored a Plenary debate on Prostate Cancer Screening. This Plenary session was organized as a debate about the value of Prostate Cancer Screening with audience participation as a vote before and after the session on whether screening for prostate cancer should now be carried out or not. The affirmative case was put by Fernand Labrie M.D., Ph.D. (Laval University, Canada) who presented evidence from his Quebec Randomized Prostate Cancer Screening Study, which has claimed major reduction in mortality due to stringent criteria for PSA screening for early prostate cancer. The negative case was presented by Michael Marberger M.D. (University of Vienna, Austria) who reviewed the present status and methodological limitations of ongoing and reported studies of prostate cancer screening. The audience had a slight majority against prostate cancer screening before the session and a much stronger majority against screening after the debate, which was chaired by David Handelsman M.D., Ph.D. (Australia). Claude C. Schulman M.D. acted as moderator of the session.
Symposium 1 was devoted to Prostate Disease. Advances of US, CT, MRI, radionuclide and mechanical imaging in detection of prostate diseases were presented with its own strengths and weaknesses by Martin I Resnick MD. Claude Schulman MD, emphasized that prostate cancer morbidity and mortality ought to be preventable, and indicated that new insights into the molecular pathogenesis of the prostate cancer will offer new challenges for development of prostate cancer chemoprevention. Based on much clinical experiences, the intermittent androgen blockade was introduced by Nicholas Bruchovsky MD, PhD as a potential alternative to permanent androgen blockade in terms of reduced financial burden and improvement of quality of life. This Symposium was chaired by Sae Chul Kim MD, PhD (S. Korea), and Han-Sun Chiang MD (Taiwan).
Symposium 2 was dedicated to Male Contraception. It was sponsored by the CONRAD Program and chaired by Kirsten Vogelson PhD (WHO) and Kamal Z Mahmoud MD (Egypt). Yi Qun Gu MD focused on Androgens as a Single Contraceptive Agent and described studies using intramuscular testosterone undecanoate at monthly intervals in 300 men demonstrating that azoospermia or severe oligozoospermia were induced in most subjects and prevented pregnancies in their partners, with minimal side effects. M Cristina Meriggiola MD, PhD, reviewed studies using intramuscular testosterone enanthate in combination with oral progestins such as levonorgestrel, desogestrel and cyproterone acetate. Since the latter has also antiandrogenic activities, the suppression of spermatogenesis was most marked in the small numbers of men studied. She presented recent studies utilizing testosterone undecanoate and noresthisterone enanthate injections at 6 weekly intervals and inducing very effective suppression of spermatogenesis. The main side effects of progestins are weight gain and suppression of HDL-cholesterol levels. Trevor G Cooper PhD gave a comprehensive review of the approaches targeting the epididymis to achieve suppression of fertility. He described the neuronal, paracrine and hormonal control of epididymal sperm transit and function. He also discussed the importance of regulation of epididymal fluids by various agents which may alter epididymal function resulting in infertility. He used ornidazole as an example of an agent which reduces fertilizing capacity acting on epididymal sperm.
Symposium 3 on Germ cell transplantation, in vitro development and transgenesis was chaired by Wolf Bernard Schill MD, PhD (Germany), and Makoto Nagano PhD (Canada). Stefan Schlatt PhD, addressed current efforts to apply spermatogonial culture, cryopreservation, and germ cell transplantation in primates, as useful tools in clinical Andrology. Though still in experimental stages, application of these techniques in humans can provide additional means for fertility preservation-restoration. The possibility that immature human spermatogenic cells could be induced to mature in vitro under conditions of short term hormonal stimulation, and the successful application of this approach to obtain ICSI pregnancies in cases of maturation arrest was presented by Jan Tesarik MD, PhD. A lively discussion ensued on the interpretation of results of this innovative approach. The use of spermatozoa carrying modified DNA as a vehicle for the expression of green fluorescent protein in preimplantation embryos and newborn mice was introduced by Masaru Okabe PhD. He highlighted the potential for this approach to use the male germ cell line as a route for transgenesis.
Symposium 4 was on Clinical Genetics and Population Variation in Andrology. It was sponsored by ALZA Pharmaceuticals and chaired by Roger Mieusset MD, PhD (France) and GK Papp MD (Hungary). Ronald Swerdloff MD reviewed variations in susceptibility to prostatic cancer and responsiveness of sperm production to male hormonal contraceptives in different ethnic groups. Asian men appear to be more sensitive to suppression of LH by exogenous testosterone, have smaller testes, lower sperm production and higher FSH level. Ethnic differences are also known in some steroidogenic enzymes and the CAG repeat length in androgen receptor. Wayne Meikle MD presented studies on heritability of androgen action. Concerning androgen production and action, the concordance of a disease, trait or hormone concentration between monozygotic and dizygotic pairs of twins provide information on whether the familial pattern or characteristic is due to hereditary or environmental influences. A strong familial component is associated with prostatic volume and serum gonadotropin, sex steroid, SHBG, BMI and urinary symptoms. Nutrient intake is an environmental factor that strongly affects serum testosterone and could thereby affect androgen action. Tarja Laminen PhD reviewed the current knowledge on mutations and polimorphisms in gonadotropin genes. She indicated that most of these mutations and polymorphisms are very rare. An exception is a common polymorphism in the LH subunit (Trp8Arg/Ilp15Thr) which has a carrier frequency of 0 - >50% in various ethnic groups. The variant LH has increased in vitro bioactivity but it has shorter half-life in circulation, therefore apparently representing a weaker form of LH that the wild-type molecule. It has been related to female subfertility, and slow-pace puberty in boys.
Symposium 5 on Sexually Transmitted Disease was chaired by Hiroyoshi Suzuki MD, PhD (Japan) and Jun-Kyu Suh MD (Korea). The molecular mechanisms of HIV infection and its clinical implications were reviewed by Deborah Anderson PhD. Caroline Ryan MD, MPH, addressed the Global Burden of Preventable Sexually Transmitted Disease, and the Epidemiology of Sexually Transmitted Disease in Japan was presented by Yoshiaki Kumamoto, MD, PhD.
Symposium 6 entitled “Animal Models of Male Infertility” was a provocative session that centered on the use of animal models for the study of male infertility. The first presentation was given by J. Anton Grootegoed Ph.D. Dr. Grootegoed discussed the role of the yeast RAD6 gene and its mammalian homologs HR6A and HR6B. RAD6 encodes a ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme which is essential for post DNA replication repair. This mechanism allows mitotic somatic cells to proceed with DNA replication over a damaged template. Dr. Grootegoed showed that HR6B knockout mice exhibit a spermatogenesis severely impaired. Stephen Pilder Ph.D. presented data on a sterile mouse mutant showing sperm flagellar defects. Mapping of this locus led to the identification of a candidate gene known as Dnahc8 responsible for the Hst6 phenotype. The possible relation of these genic alterations to phenotypes of sperm pathlogy in humans. was discussed. Grant R. MacGregor Ph.D. indicated that Bclw together with Bax and Bak are members of the Bc12 family and are essential for spermatogenesis. Bclw is required for survival of post-mitotic Sertoli cells. In rodents Bclw is expressed in Sertoli cells and in spermatogonia. Genetic analysis of Bclw mouse mutants demonstrated a severe testicular atrophy. While removal of Bax suppresses the excessive death of Sertoli cells observed in Bclw-mutant mice, loss of function of Bak has no effect. Thus, Dr. MacGregor argued that Bclw mediates long-term survival of Sertoli cells in the mouse by antagonizing Bax. The session was chaired by Richard Sharpe Ph.D. and Jacquetta M. Trasler Ph.D. and sponsored by the U.S. National Institute of Health (NIH).
Symposium 7 on Testicular Cancer was chaired by John Pryor MD (USA) and Robert W. Hutson MD, PhD (Canada). Ewa Rajpert de Meyts suggested that various genetic and environmental factors during fetal life may lead to neoplastic transformation of fetal gonocytes. Henrik Möller indicated that decreasing sex ratios in populations in Denmark and the other Nordic countries might be part of a scenario of increasing male reproductive hazards, considering the hypothesis that causal factors exist that are common to both subfertility and testicular cancer. Klaus Peter Dieckman MD emphasized early detection of testis cancer by biopsy in clinical groups known to be at risk for testicular cancer (cryptorchidism, infertility, ambiguous genitalia, contralateral testis of patients with testis cancer), in conjunction with organ-preserving treatment by radiotherapy.
Symposium 8, featured leaders in the field of “Cell Survival and Death.” Michael Hengartner Ph.D. covered the general mechanism of apoptosis. Emphasis was placed on the role of caspases in apoptotic execution and the role of the Bcl2 family members on the regulation of the release of cytochrome c and other apoptotic promoting factors. Josefa Blanco-Rodriguez M.D., Ph.D. discussed the mechanism of genetic fidelity, DNA repair and chromosome segregation in relation to spermatogenesis and male sterility. She indicated that successful completion of these cellular functions depends on multiple factors such as cell cycle regulators, DNA repair, and apoptotic and anti-apoptotic proteins. Dr. Blanco-Rodriguez concluded that Mitotic/meiotic cell cycle checkpoints and germ cell apoptosis play a critical role in spermatogenesis. Martin Tenniswood Ph.D. suggested that the invasive phenotype of prostate cancer cells might be the consequence of abrogated cell death. He demonstrated that treatment of LNCap prostate cancer cells with the antiandrogen casodex induces generalized apoptosis, but stimulated the invasive potential of a small percentage of surviving cells in a dose-dependent manner. It was also indicated that it is imperative to re-examine the ramifications of treating certain localized tumors aggressively with antiandrogens, as well as using antiandrogens for chemoprevention. Symposium 8 was chaired by Barry Zirkin Ph.D. (USA) and Dimitri Adamopoulos M.D. (Greece).
Symposium 9 was devoted to Public Health and Epidemiology Aspects of Andrology. It was chaired by Eduardo Bustos Obregón MD (Chile) and Fernando Vasquez MD (Colombia). This symposium reviewed several aspects of epidemiological developments in public health Andrology. Jorn Olsen MD, PhD reviewed the epidemiological measures of male fertility highlighting the limitations of semen analysis as a surrogate marker for human male fertility and reviewed other population measures of male fertility. Jens P Bonde MD, PhD then illustrated the application of these approaches to studies of potential occupational risks to male fertility and several examples where risks were confirmed or refuted were presented. Finally, the controversial debate about falling sperm counts and global estrogenic pollution was introduced by Alfred Spira Ph.D. who highlighted recent multicenter studies among healthy European volunteers and vigorous discussion ensued.
Symposium 10 was devoted to Sperm Oocyte Interaction. It was chaired by Nuch Tanphaichitr PhD (Canada). John Aitken ScD, FRSE addressed The Impact of Oxydative Stress on Sperm Function and Fertility. He indicated that reactive oxygen metabolites are known to disrupt sperm-oocyte fusion, sperm movement, and DNA integrity; however, the relative sensitivities of these elements to oxidative stress are unknown. Studies have emphasized how redox mechanisms can either enhance or disrupt the functional and genomic integrity of human spermatozoa depending on the intensity of the oxidative stimulus. The Nature of Sperm Capacitation: Current Concepts after 50 Years of Research, was the topic presented y Janice L Bailey PhD. It was shown that capacitation is linked to changes in sperm metabolism, plasma membrane modifications and signal transduction events. In porcines sperm capacitation is associated with membrane distribution of tyrosine-phosphorylated proteins, the appearance of a 32-kDa tyrosine-phosphoprotein, tyrosine- kinase activity and increased intracellular calcium. The last speaker was Kiyotaka Toshimori MD, PhD who spoke on Sperm Egg Fusion in Mammals. Various aspects of sperm egg fusion derived proteins were reviewed. Equatorin (MN9) is exposed at the equatorial segment after the acrosome reaction. Antifusion antibodies prevent sperm egg fusion. Several routes may be operative for sperm-egg fusion in mammals, but the mechanism for this process remains largely unknown.
The debate Ethics in Andrology featured two presentations. Based on the absence of long-term follow up studies of ICSI children, and the lack of previous animal experimentation Laura Hewitson PhD advocated the use of non-human primates to evaluate the safety of ICSI. The study of ICSI in Rhesus monkeys has demonstrated important differences from normal or IVF fertilizations (lack of removal of the perinuclear theca, delayed and asynchronous sperm chromatin decondensation, etc). These examples validate the need for the use of continuing research in non-human primates. Finally, the transmission of defective genes carried by severe male factor infertility patients, an increase in sex chromosome anomalies and the possibility that microinjected spermatozoa could be carriers of foreign DNA (viral particles?) into the embryo were mentioned as risk factors. A contrasting view was offered by HWG Baker M.D., PhD. who stressed that ICSI has improved the management of male infertility by allowing men with previously untreatable sterility to become fathers, improving the fertility potential of subfertile men. These results have been achieved with no serious increases in congenital malformations, pregnancy or newborn pathologies and the benefits outweigh the drawbacks of this therapeutic approach. Even conceding that additional problems may arise in the future, Dr Baker stressed that ICSI does appear to be a safe therapeutic approach to severe male factor infertility. An interesting discussion ensued that was moderated by the chairman of the session Anibal A. Acosta M.D. (Argentina-USA).
In Symposium 11 on Androgen Therapy and Aging, J Lisa Tenover MD, PhD, highlighted the benefits of testosterone replacement in older men and weighed them against the potential risks. She summarized all recent available data including her own studies using testosterone in older men. Marc R Blackman MD, then described studies comparing androgen and growth hormone therapies alone or combined in older men. Either hormone has some anabolic effects in older men when used alone, but the combination of both have some advantages. He also briefly described the adverse effects of growth hormone therapy in older men. Joel Finkelstein MD, stressed the role of androgens on the functions of the osteoblasts and osteoclasts. He reviewed the action of androgens in orchiectomized animals. Dr. Finkelstein discussed the mechanisms of action of testosterone in bone and the important role of aromatization to estrogens in decreasing bone resorption in hypogonadal men and possibly in older men. He reviewed recent studies on the use of androgens, bisphosphonates and parathyroid hormone for the treatment of osteoporosis in men. Session chairs were William Bremner M.D., Ph.D. (USA) and Miguel Díaz Gacía M.D. (Mexico).
Symposium 12 on Male Sexual Dysfunction was sponsored by American Medical Systems and chaired by Serge Carrier MD (Canada) and Marcos P P de Castro MD, PhD (Brazil). Neurophysiology, endocrinology, hemodynamics, and psychosexual issues in erectile function and dysfunction were presented. A Burnett MD introduced peripherally and centrally acting agents for the medical treatment of ED and premature ejaculation. Penile prosthesis and vascular surgery in terms of patient and prosthesis selection, complications, and results in the era of various oral agents available for ED treatment were presented by John P Mulhall MD who also addressed surgical management of Peyronie’s disease.
Symposium 13 was devoted to the action of FSH in the Male. It was sponsored by N V Organon and chaired by Malur Ram Sairam MD, PhD (Canada) and Krzysztof Kula MD, PhD (Poland). In the first talk on “FSH and Spermatogenesis: The Clinical Experience”, Eberhard Nieschlag MD presented clinical evidences in favor of the role FSH in regulation of human spermatogenesis as well as the use of FSH in the treatment of male infertility. The second talk by Harry Charlton PhD presented the findings on a knockout mouse model of the FSHR gene. The mice have somewhat reduced testicular size and suppressed spermatogenesis, however maintaining their fertility. In this respect the knockout mouse model is a perfect phenocopy of men with inactivating mutation of the FSH receptor gene. In the third talk Irving Boime PhD presented data on function of novel genetically modified gonadotropin molecules which might in the future offer therapeutic advantages in the form of longer circulatory half-life and modified biological actions.
Symposium 14 was dedicated to The Epididymis. It was chaired by Jorge Blaquier MD, PhD (Argentina) and David Hamilton PhD (USA). Joel R Drevet PhD addressed the Regulation of gene expression in the epididymis. Maturation of spermatozoa is achieved during transit in the epididymis. It was shown that this regional expression is accomplished through interaction with proteins that are synthesized and secreted by the epididymal epithelium. Daniel G Cyr PhD delivered a presentation on Cell-Cell Interaction in the Epididymis. Dr Cyr indicated that microenvironments are created by tight junctions between cells which form an impenetrable seal, thereby forcing receptor mediated transport across cells and creating specific environments, essential for sperm maturation. Tight junction in the epididymis are composed of a large number of transmembrane proteins including occludin and several claudins. Finally, Patricia S Cuasnicú Ph.D. presented her work on the role of human epididymal sperm protein ARP, a member of the cysteine-rich secretory proteins (CRISP) family in sperm egg fusion. ARP exhibits significant homology with rat epididymal protein DE, a candidate molecule for mediating sperm-egg fusion in rodents.
The topic of Symposium 15 was Non-Traditional Markers of Reproductive Tract Function. It was chaired by Robert McLachlan M.D., Ph.D. (Australia). Anna-Maria Andersson PhD addressed the role of dimeric Inhibin B as a circulating marker of Sertoli cell and, indirectly, seminiferous tubular function. Inhibin B can confirm spermatogenic failure but cannot differentiate between obstructive azoospermia and spermatogenic arrest in adult men. The prepubertal testis produces Inhibin B in the absence of post-meiotic germ cells – Inhibin B can therefore be a marker of prepubertal testicular function independent of spermatogenesis. The role of Anti-Müllerian Hormone in Prepubertal Testicular Function was addressed by Rodolfo A Rey M.D., Ph.D. He indicated that prepubertal testicular function cannot be easily assessed in the absence of spermatogenesis and T production. Sertoli, spermatogonia and peritubular cells however proliferate as seminiferous tubules increase in length. This phase of activity is important in determining quantitatively normal spermatogenesis in adulthood. Circulating AMH is a reliable marker of the number of functional Sertoli cells in the prepubertal testis with clinical applications in the assessment of cryptorchidsm, precocious puberty or hypogonadotrophic hypogonadism. The last speaker was Gail Risbridger Ph.D. who discussed the importance of Inhibins, Activins and Follistatins in the prostate. Dr Risbridger showed that in prostate tumor cells Inhibin alpha subunit gene expression is downregulated. Novel forms of beta-subunits have been identified. Beta-C subunits dimerize with itself to form Activin C. While Activin A is a growth inhibitor, Activin C has no action on cell proliferation. Finally, changes in Follistatin isoform expression occurring in prostate cancer correlate with the resistance of prostate tumor cell lines to Activin.
Symposium 16 was devoted to Androgens and the Brain. It was sponsored by Watson Pharmaceuticals and chaired by Gianni Forti MD (Italy) and Ganesan Adaikan MD (Singapore). Robert Handa PhD indicated that pre- and peri-natally androgen acting directly or via aromatisation to oestradiol is required for important organisational effects on sexually dimorphic brain structures including the hippocampus. In the Hippocampal CA1 pyramidal layer, androgens may act directly on neuronal membrane functions by interacting with neurotransmitters (glutamate & GABA) synaptic transmission, NMDA receptor responsiveness, altering nerve growth factor levels and voltage/ligand –gated channels. These mechanisms may be important in androgen-regulated non-reproductive behaviour and cognitive function in men. Daryl O´Connor PhD addressed the important gender differences in cognitive function. These are well-recognised with men scoring higher in visuospatial skills and women in verbal tasks. The activational effects of androgens on cognition in men suggest a curvilinear relationship between hormones and these two functional domains. Low T is associated with deficits in visuospatial performance and high T levels with improved verbal fluency but decline in spatial abilities.
Symposium 17 on Sperm Structure and Function reviewed novel data on the cell and molecular biology of spermatogenic cells. It was chaired by Carlos Morales PhD, DVM (Canada) and Aucky Hinting MD, PhD (Indonesia). Richard Oko PhD presented recent research on the structure and protein composition of the perinuclear theca, a cytoskeletal structure unique to the spermatozoon that may serve roles in the acrosome-nuclear docking, nuclear shaping and essential stages of sperm egg interaction and egg activation. The protein composition of the synaptonemal complex, an evolutionary conserved meiosis-specific structure and the differential roles of these proteins (SCP3, SCP2, cohesin complex) in homologous pairing and recombination was highlighted by Christer Höög PhD, who indicated that null mutations of SCP3 in mice result in asynapsis and apoptosis of meiotic chromosomes. Deborah A O´Brien PhD (USA) addressed the role of glycolysis in male fertility through the study of Glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDS ), a sperm specific, glycolytic enzyme attached to the sperm fibrous sheath. Dr O´Brien hypothesized that GAPDS coordinates glycolysis along the sperm tail and discussed the role of locally produced ATP in hyperactivated motility and potential use of GAPDS as a contraceptive target.
There were 9 Workshops at noon time that were centered on recent technological developments, diagnostic methods and clinical work-ups. They were: DNA Chips (T. Hudson and R. Sladek), Proteomics of the cell map ( JM Bergeron, M Desjardins and AW Bell), Intersex disorders (R. Rey), Drug Discovery and Design (H Uri Saragovi), Germ Cell transplants (L Russell), Sperm retrieval (H Tournaye), Future Trends in Hormone Assays (G Lindstedt), Molecular Genetic diagnosis in Andrology (HW Gordon Baker) and Transgenic Technology (S Pilder).
This program was preceded by a Postgraduate Course on Recent Advances in Clinical Andrology (Sponsored by Bayer Corp. and chaired by JP Jarow and S. Carrier), and followed by another Post Graduate Course on Sperm Function and WHO Criteria (chaired by C De Jonge and D Mortimer).
Detailed information on the generous contributions of Congress Sponsors Supporters and exhibitors is given in a special supplement of the Journal of Andrology, that also contains a detailed program of scientific and social events, awards, information on the Local and Program Organizing Committees, Women in Andrology, and abstracts of posters presented.
Compiled by Hector Chemes, Daniel Franken, David Handelsman, Ilpo Huhtaniemi, Sae Chul Kim, Carlos Morales, Rodolfo Rey, Christina Wang and Frederick Wu.