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20-06-2010 | Gynaecology | Article

Sperm DNA damage can predict IVF outcomes


Free abstract

MedWire News: Couples who fail to achieve a clinical pregnancy after IVF have higher sperm DNA fragmentation (DF) than couples who do achieve clinical pregnancy, report researchers.

Thus, Sheena Lewis (Queens University of Belfast, UK) and colleagues believe DF could be used in testing and diagnosis of male infertility and to predict the outcome of assisted reproductive technologies.

“A major cause of sperm damage is oxidative stress,” explain Lewis et al, who used the alkaline single-cell gel electrophoresis (Comet) assay to analyze the semen and sperm following density gradient centrifugation (DGC), of 230 couples undergoing IVF, and 130 couples undergoing intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).

In couples who did not achieve a clinical pregnancy after IVF, DF scores were 12.2 percent and 9.9 percent higher in semen and DGC sperm, respectively, compared with couples who did achieve pregnancy.

Furthermore, when the researchers added modified bases to existing strand breaks in analysis, DF was higher still, at 17.1 and 13.8 percent for semen and DCG sperm, respectively.

Among ICSI-treated couples, those who failed to achieve pregnancy also tended to have higher sperm DF than pregnant couples, with a 8.3 percent difference in semen and 6.2 percent difference in DCG sperm.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Sarah Guy