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Biol Reprod. 1997 Mar;56(3):602-7.

Detection of deoxyribonucleic acid fragmentation in human sperm: correlation with fertilization in vitro.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


The objective of this study was to determine the incidence of DNA fragmentation in human sperm, and to correlate any detected DNA damage with semen analysis parameters and fertilization rates in in vitro fertilization (IVF). A total of 298 semen samples were collected from men in the infertility program at The Toronto Hospital. For each sample, the percentage of sperm with DNA fragmentation was determined using the method of terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP-biotin end-labeling (TUNEL) and fluorescence-activated cell sorting. The percentage of sperm with fragmented DNA was less than 4% in the majority of samples but ranged from 5% to 40% in approximately 27% of the samples. A negative correlation was found between the percentage of DNA fragmentation and the motility, morphology, and concentration of the ejaculated sperm. In 143 IVF samples, a significant negative association was also found between the percentage of sperm with DNA fragmentation and fertilization rate (p = 0.008) and embryo cleavage rate (p = 0.01). In addition, 35 men who smoked demonstrated an increased percentage of sperm with fragmented DNA (4.7 +/- 1.2%) as compared to 78 nonsmokers (1.1 +/- 0.2%; p = 0.01). These results demonstrate a negative association between semen analysis parameters and sperm with fragmented DNA. Since extremely poor semen samples are the indication for intracytoplasmic sperm injection, there is a high likelihood that sperm with fragmented DNA may be selected by chance and used for oocyte injection, resulting in poor fertilization and/or cleavage rates.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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