Contribution of semen to early embryo development: fertilization and beyond
BACKGROUND It has long been thought that the factors affecting embryo and foetal development were exclusively maternally derived; hence, if issues regarding fertility and embryo development were to arise, the blame has traditionally been placed solely on the mother. An escalating interest in how paternal factors influence embryo development, however, has begun to prove otherwise. Evidence suggests that both seminal plasma (SP) and sperm contribute multiple factors that shape embryogenesis. This review thus focuses on the role that semen has in driving early embryonic development, and describes how paternal factors, such as SP, sperm centriole, sperm proteins, sperm RNA, sperm DNA, and its integrity, together with epigenetics, may influence the female reproductive tract and post-fertilization events. The important contributions of paternal factors to embryo development highlight the imperative need for further research in this area, which is sure to bring forth breakthroughs leading to improvements in infertility diagnosis and ART as well as reducing the risk of miscarriage.