EAA/EMQN best practice guidelines for molecular diagnosis of Y-chromosomal microdeletions: State of the art 2023

[Correction added on 25 October 2023, after first online publication: Figure A1 has been replaced in this version.]


Testing for AZoospermia Factor (AZF) deletions of the Y chromosome is a key component of the diagnostic workup of azoospermic and severely oligozoospermic men. This revision of the 2013 European Academy of Andrology (EAA) and EMQN CIC (previously known as the European Molecular Genetics Quality Network) laboratory guidelines summarizes recent clinically relevant advances and provides an update on the results of the external quality assessment program jointly offered by both organizations. A basic multiplex PCR reaction followed by a deletion extension analysis remains the gold-standard methodology to detect and correctly interpret AZF deletions. Recent data have led to an update of the sY84 primer sequences, as well as to a refinement of what were previously considered as interchangeable border markers for AZFa and AZFb deletion breakpoints. More specifically, sY83 and sY143 are no longer recommended for the deletion extension analysis, leaving sY1064 and sY1192, respectively, as first-choice markers. Despite the transition, currently underway in several countries, toward a diagnosis based on certified kits, it should be noted that many of these commercial products are not recommended due to an unnecessarily high number of tested markers, and none of those currently available are, to the best of our knowledge, in accordance with the new first-choice markers for the deletion extension analysis. The gr/gr partial AZFc deletion remains a population-specific risk factor for impaired sperm production and a predisposing factor for testicular germ cell tumors. Testing for this deletion type is, as before, left at the discretion of the diagnostic labs and referring clinicians. Annual participation in an external quality control program is strongly encouraged, as the 22-year experience of the EMQN/EAA scheme clearly demonstrates a steep decline in diagnostic errors and an improvement in reporting practice.