Sperm DNA Fragmentation and Sperm High DNA Stainability: How Important are they in Assisted Reproduction?

Date: 1-7-2009

Barbara Speyer, Arnold Pizzey, Joy Delhanty, Paul Serhal. University College London, London, UK.

According to an abstract presented by the authors at the Fertility 2009 Conference of the British Fertility Society, in Edinburgh, England, 7-9 January, 2009, and reported in part here:

The sperm chromatin structure assay (SCSA), which measures sperm DNA fragmentation (DFI) and high DNA stainability (HDS), is not usually included in routine sperm analyses because it requires flow cytometry facilities. The present study included 218 couples (359 cycles) of whom the majority had a history of one or more failed IVF or ICSI cycles. Of the 53 couples with high DFI, i.e. > 19%, the continuing pregnancy rate per cycle was 17% and the miscarriage rate was 7%. The 165 couples with DFI < 20% had a continuing pregnancy rate per cycle of 30% and a miscarriage rate of 10%. The decrease in pregnancy rate seen with a high DFI was significant. There were no pregnancies from the 8 cycles (4 patients) where DFI > 51. A high HDS, i.e. > 17%, seen in 32 couples, had no effect on pregnancy or miscarriage rate.

High DFI had no effect on fertilization rate. High HDS appeared to lower fertilization rate by 8% but this was not significant. Neither high DFI nor high HDS had an effect on embryo growth (i.e. number of cells per embryo at day 3 after fertilization) or on the aneuploidy rate at day 3. High DFI reduced the number of morulas and/or blastocysts on day 5 by approximately 20%. High HDS did not appear to have a direct effect on the progression of embryos to blastocysts. Both DFI and HDS were found to correlate (p < 0.01) with certain sperm properties measured in routine sperm analyses."