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Cytometry A. 2007 Dec;71(12):1011-8.

Human sperm DNA fragmentation: correlation of TUNEL results as assessed by flow cytometry and optical microscopy.

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Human Genetics Research Group, IDIBAPS, Faculty of Medicine, University of Barcelona, 08036 Barcelona, Spain.


An association between DNA fragmentation in sperm determined by the terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase [TdT]-mediated deoxyuridine triphosphate (dUTP) nick end labeling (TUNEL) assay and the incidence of reproductive failure has been reported, either using flow cytometry or optical microscopy. However, the results obtained using each of these two approaches are different. Since there is a relative lack of studies standardizing these two approaches, the direct comparison of the results described in the different articles is difficult at present. To allow the comparison of the TUNEL results obtained using flow cytometry and optical microscopy, we applied these two approaches in a total of 66 human sperm samples. A positive correlation is detected in the TUNEL results as measured by flow cytometry and optical microscopy (Spearman; r = 0.720, P < 0.001). The percentage of TUNEL-positive spermatozoa assessed by flow cytometry is 2.6 times higher than that detected in optical microscopy (39.7% +/- 23.1% versus 15.3% +/- 10.3%). Although there is a good correlation of the TUNEL results obtained by flow cytometry and optical microscopy, the percentages obtained with either technique are different. Therefore, the TUNEL results described in the present work should be valuable to compare the results described in many independent articles, using either optical microscopy or flow cytometry.

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