Posted under Fertility Treatment by Dr. Rajeev Agarwal



How DNA Fragmentation and Microfluidics are changing how we assess Sperm Quality

How DNA Fragmentation and Microfluidics are changing how we assess Sperm Quality?

Classical semen analysis is based mainly on sperm count, the number, ability of the sperm to swim and the shape or morphology of the sperm. Although Semen analyses test is used as a gold standard to different fertile men from infertile men, it doesn’t provide any information on the genetic constitution of the sperm.

Natural selection Filters Sperm DNA damage but ART doesn’t:

Sperms with DNA damage are less motile.

This is nature’s way of ensuring that sperms with DNA damage don’t reach the egg. Only one on 300 million sperms fertilize the egg. Body’s natural selection mechanism promotes surplus production of sperms and allows a race in which only the fittest are able to reach the egg.

ICSI bypasses the natural selection mechanism of the body that stops Sperms with DNA damage from fertilization.

ICSI allows direct selection of a single sperm and injection into the egg. A semen sample with normal semen parameters indicated in semen analysis may still carry DNA damage. If such a sperm is injected into the egg, the resulting embryo will be less viable and of poor quality.

How does DNA Fragmentation effect ART Treatment outcome?

  • Evidence suggests that in the field of ART, DNA damage in sperms can be passed on to the embryo and result in cell degeneration and gene mutations, leading to arrested embryo development, miscarriage, abnormalities in the offspring and an increased susceptibility to childhood cancers.
  • Embryos derived from sperm whose DNA is highly fragmented have a poor prognosis and may result in implantation failure or miscarriage or birth defects.
  • High sperm DNA fragmentation is more likely to affect embryos from day two of development once the paternal genome is switched on and it impairs subsequent blastocyst development.

Thus, the current era of assisted reproductive technology demands more sophisticated diagnostic and predictive tools in the management of male infertility that can assess the extent of DNA damage in sperms.


DNA Fragmentation is High inDNA damage is caused by
Who May Benefit from DNA fragmentation tests
  • Infertile men
  • Low Sperm Motility
  • Poor Sperm Parameters
  • Men with Normal Sperm parameters but unexplained
  • Infertility
  • Infection
  • Leucocytospermia
  • High Fever
  • Elevated Testicular Temperature
  • Varicocoele
  • Advanced Age
  • Obesity
  • Poor Diet
  • Drug Use
  • Cigarette Smoking
  • Exposure to Environmental and Occupational Pollutants and Heat
  • Unexplained Infertility
  • Arrested Embryo Development
  • Poor Blastocyst Development
  • Multiple Failed IVF/ICSI Treatment
  • Recurrent Miscarriage in Partner
  • Advanced Age
  • Varicocoele
  • Poor Semen Parameters
  • Exposure to Harmful Substances


Fertility centers are therefore turning their attention to this area of fertility research which focusses on assessment of Sperm quality based on DNA damage.

Clinics are now adopting advanced techniques like DNA fragmentation tests and Microfluidics in an attempt to identify and reduce the possibility of using sperms with DNA damage in IVF.

Measuring Sperm DNA damage using DNA Fragmentation Tests:

These tests indicate the DNA fragmentation Index of an individual, which is reported as the percentage of sperms having fragmented DNA. It helps doctors to check if the DNA damage is high, investigate the cause and to decide the appropriate treatment outcome which may be:

  • Varicocoele Surgery.
  • Reversing or reducing DNA damage caused by Reactive Oxygen Species by means of medicines, anti-oxidant supplements, diet and lifestyle changes.
  • Treatment of infection with antibiotics.
  • Sperm Donation if the extent of fragmentation is very high or can’t be treated.

Sorting Normal sperms without DNA damage via Microfluidics Sperm Sorting Technology (MSSQ):

MSSQ makes it very easy to sort sperms based on their motility using microfluidics and is currently the most favored tool in Andrology laboratories for sorting sperms with DNA damage. This is because Sperms with DNA damage have lower motility whereas sperms with higher motility are very less likely to have a poor DNA damage score.

The MSSQ is an ingenious device with four chambers connected via paralleled channels. Media is added to three of the chambers. Differences in gradients in media between the chambers are used to establish two parallel laminar flow channels between the three chambers. This laminar flow is used to sort motile sperms from immotile sperms.

To Understand how the Microfluidics Sperm Sorter sorts Normal sperms from DNA damaged sperms click here.

About the author

The author, Dr. Rajeev Agarwal is a Fertility Consultant at Care IVF Kolkata. For an appointment with the doctor, call +91-33-66-398-600. You can also book a Skype Consultation here.


    Leave a Comment

    Related Posts

    Folliculometry – The best way for Ovulation Tracking.
    Understand the role of follicular study in tracking follicular and endometrial growth, predicting ov ...
    Read More
    Understanding Turner Syndrome and Conception Options
    What are the conception options for people with turner syndrome? How can pe ...
    Read More
    Pre-implantation Genetic Testing for Aneuploidies (PGT-A) simplified for couples.
    PGT-A is being recommended more often these days for couples with multiple IVF failures, recurrent m ...
    Read More
    Significance of laparoscopy in managing female subfertility
    Laparoscopic surgery is often recommended for infertile women before IVF. This article will help you ...
    Read More
    6 Major Fertility Breakthroughs that have helped improve IVF outcomes
    Assisted Reproductive Technology is a constantly evolving field with research focussing on improving ...
    Read More
    Understanding Premature Ovarian Insufficiency
    What is Primary Ovarian insufficiency? what causes premature Menopause and what is the treatment app ...
    Read More
    What are the Factors that contribute to Male Infertility?
    Male Infertility can be caused by a variety of factors that can be categorized into Pre Testicular, ...
    Read More
    What are the techniques of surgical sperm retrieval?
    Understand how sperms are aspirated surgically during IVF procedure and what are the different ways ...
    Read More
    What happens if you have an Ectopic Pregnancy?
    When the fertilized egg implants anywhere except the uterine lining, it is called an ectopic pregnan ...
    Read More
    What is recurrent pregnancy loss? How to improve conception chances if you have RPL?
    Understand what is recurrent pregnancy loss and why does it happen. What are the tests needed to und ...
    Read More
    Genetic counselling - read this before going for a genetic consult?
    If you are planning to see a Genetic Counselor and have questions regarding the whole genetic counse ...
    Read More
    What is the role of genetic factors contribute to recurrent pregnancy loss?
    Understand why genetics factors play an important role in infertility especially when all is well bu ...
    Read More
    Genetic testing through Microarray - Who should go for this?
    Chromosomal microarrays form the basis of Pre-Implantation genetic testing. Understand its significa ...
    Read More
    How does hydrosalpinx effect female fertility?
    Understand the condition of Hydrosalpinx, what causes it, and how it affects female fertility. How i ...
    Read More
    Renting a Womb - A Guide To Getting Started With Surrogacy
    Is surrogacy for all couples? Who is eligible for surrogacy and where to start? where do you begin? ...
    Read More
    What to consider before you decide to opt for IVF treatment
    Getting an IVF done is not the first or natural choice for any couple desiring to have a baby. It is ...
    Read More
    Why is Sperm DNA Fragmentation Tests for male partner necessary in IUI and IVF?
    Sperm DNA fragmentation test is a crucial test in male infertility cases to check the extent of DNA ...
    Read More
    4 Steps to Coping with - PAIN - of IVF failures
    This article talks about the 4 simple steps of embracing grief of Failure, deal with it and how to m ...
    Read More
    Role of Endometrial Receptivity in Implantation Failure In IVF
    Find out what is endometrial receptivity and window of Implantation and how it impacts the implantat ...
    Read More
    Understanding Ovulation Induction. Why is it important in fertility Treatment?
    Every Couple facing Conceptions issues are given medicines/ injections to help them ovulate. Ovulati ...
    Read More
    Male Infertility Causes and Treatment | Antioxidant therapy to combat sperm damage
    What is oxidative stress and how does it cause male infertility. How does ROS alter sperms parameter ...
    Read More
    Low – Cost Fertility treatment and EMI Financing options is building hope for couples from Low Income groups
    In private clinics the cost of an IVF cycle in the state varies anything between Rs. 1 lac and Rs. 2 ...
    Read More
    PRP therapy is giving hope to couples advised for Egg donation to conceive with their own eggs
    PRP or Platelet Rich Plasma is an extract from the blood which has a concentrate of Platelets and ot ...
    Read More
    Why Pre Implantation Genetic Screening of Embryos is recommended after IVF Failure?
    The majority of abnormal embryos are indistinguishable from normal embryos when studied using a micr ...
    Read More
    Personalised Embryo Transfer is the next big game changer in IVF?
    The window of implantation is the period when the endometrium is receptive or ready for the embryo. ...
    Read More
    Fresh Vs Frozen Embryo Transfer. Which option yields better results?
    Why should couples opt for Frozen embryo transfer (FET) rather than same cycle transfer? How is FET ...
    Read More
    How do Polycystic Ovaries Affect Pregnancy
    Pregnancy is a wonderful aspect of a woman’s life. Nurturing a life in your womb is one of the best ...
    Read More
    Brief Summary of the Indian Laws on ART and Surrogacy
    What do Shah Rukh Khan, Karan Johar, and Tusshar Kapoor have in common? Well, they are all A-listed ...
    Read More
    5 Things You Should Know About Fertility
    If you are reading this article then chances are high that you are trying or planning to have childr ...
    Read More
    5 Tips that will see you through a Successful Surrogacy
    Being pregnant is one of the most wonderful feeling for any woman. However, things are a bit differe ...
    Read More
    Secondary Infertility - 8 Facts to Know
    Secondary fertility is when a woman cannot get pregnant or isn’t capable of carrying a pregnancy to ...
    Read More
    5 Common Myths About IVF Treatment
    Despite the growing popularity of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) as an effective solution for infertil ...
    Read More
    Corrective Surgeries That Are Performed Before IVF
    You may face unexplained fertility issues or have experienced failed IVF cycle. In such cases, often ...
    Read More
    Trying to Conceive - When is Sperm Aspiration Recommended
    Infertility due to male factor is not an uncommon issue. There are several factors that determine th ...
    Read More
    Why IVF Fails
    IVF or in-vitro fertilization is a process in which both egg and sperm are collected from the indivi ...
    Read More
    Role of Hysteroscopy in IVF
    What is Hysteroscopy, why is it so important ? Should we doing Hysteroscopy ...
    Read More
    Sperm Banking
    Information about Sperm Banking, both for Donors and also for those who wil ...
    Read More
    Life Begins at 40 with the Success of IVF
    Most women around the age of 30, whom I have seen do show apprehension regarding that particular age ...
    Read More
    Tubal Patency Testing Under Best IVF Clinic in Kolkata
    Fallopian tubes arise from the womb (uterus) and curve around the ovaries on either side. The ends o ...
    Read More
    Letrozole is Safe under Supervision of Infertility Specialist
    I am writing this article because Letrozole is a very commonly used drug by Infertility Specialists ...
    Read More
    Male infertility Evaluation - Physical examination of Infertile male
    Male fertility examination<br />
    Read More
    5 Reasons why you should opt for Frozen Embryo Transfer during IVF
    There are a lot of practices in ART that help ensure you can give the best chance for an embryo to i ...
    Read More
    Ovarian Drilling
    Women with PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndromes) have irregular menstrual periods and do not ovulate ...
    Read More

    Useful Videos

    © 2020 Care Fertility Solutions Pvt Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

    Design By: AV Solutions