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J Androl. 2006 Mar-Apr;27(2):257-62. Epub 2005 Dec 5.

The precision and accuracy of six different methods to determine sperm concentration.

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  • 1Royal Veterinary College, Camden Town, London, United Kingdom. nprathalingam@rvc.ac.uk

Abstract

The development of new technologies and software that are routinely used in laboratories has now allowed for a more diverse novel range of methods to determine sperm concentrations more rapidly. The aim of this study was to compare 3 such novel methods developed in our laboratory, including a new flow cytometry approach, image analysis, and a fluorescent plate reader, with more conventional methods (hemocytometry, spectrophotometry, and Microcell analysis). Fifteen ejaculates were collected from 13 bulls at an artificial insemination center. The semen samples were analyzed for sperm concentration using a spectrophotometer, hemocytometry, and a novel flow cytometry technique based on counting a fixed volume of fluid. The raw ejaculate was also diluted fivefold in a long-term diluent and sent overnight to another laboratory, where sperm numbers were assessed using Microcells, an image analysis system, and a fluorescent plate reader. Each ejaculate was assessed 5 times using each of the methods described in order to determine the coefficient of variation for each method. Comparisons between methods were determined using correlation and limits of agreement. The flow cytometry results showed the lowest coefficient of variation (2.3%), with the plate reader showing the highest coefficient of variation (20.0%). There was no significant difference between any of the methods used, and none of them consistently over- or underestimated numbers when compared against each other. It is concluded that flow cytometry showed the highest repeatability of results. However, the method employed by each laboratory should be determined based on a range of factors, including cost, convenience, sample size, and number of ejaculates to be assessed.

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