Human epidemiological studies have shown that paternal aging as one of the risk factors for neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism, in offspring. A recent study has suggested that factors other than de novo mutations due to aging can influence the biology of offspring. Here, we focused on epigenetic alterations in sperm that can influence developmental programs in offspring. In this study, we qualitatively and semiquantitatively evaluated histone modification patterns in male germline cells throughout spermatogenesis based on immunostaining of testes taken from young (3 months old) and aged (12 months old) mice. Although localization patterns were not obviously changed between young and aged testes, some histone modification showed differences in their intensity. Among histone modifications that repress gene expression, histone H3 lysine 9 trimethylation (H3K9me3) was decreased in the male germline cells of the aged testis, while H3K27me2/3 was increased. The intensity of H3K27 acetylation (ac), an active mark, was lower/higher depending on the stages in the aged testis. Interestingly, H3K27ac was detected on the putative sex chromosomes of round spermatids, while other chromosomes were occupied by a repressive mark, H3K27me3. Among other histone modifications that activate gene expression, H3K4me2 was drastically decreased in the male germline cells of the aged testis. In contrast, H3K79me3 was increased in M-phase spermatocytes, where it accumulates on the sex chromosomes. Therefore, aging induced alterations in the amount of histone modifications and in the differences of patterns for each modification. Moreover, histone modifications on the sex chromosomes and on other chromosomes seems to be differentially regulated by aging. These findings will help elucidate the epigenetic mechanisms underlying the influence of paternal aging on offspring development.
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