Sperm DNA Fragmentation Assay

DNA is the hereditary material in humans, and other organisms. The information in DNA is stored as a code made up of four types of molecules called bases, which are attached to the DNA strands like rungs on a ladder. Sperm DNA fragmentation occurs when there is a change in the bases or a physical break in one or both of the DNA strands of the chromosomes contained within the sperm. This fragmentation is often the result of oxidative stress.

Testing for sperm DNA fragmentation is useful as it provides reliable data on sperm integrity that causes subfertility, as well as a clinical diagnosis for male infertility. This is also helpful in the determination of the predictive value in assessing outcomes of assisted conception treatment.

Sperm DNA fragmentation occurs when there is a change in the bases or a physical break in one or both of the DNA strands of the chromosomes contained within the sperm. This fragmentation is often the result of oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is a strain on the body caused by the build-up of free radicals not adequately neutralized by antioxidants.

Sperm DNA fragmentation is associated with infections, cigarette smoking, drug use, exposure to environmental and occupational pollutants, advanced age, varicocele (enlarged veins inside the scrotum), illnesses with high fevers, elevated testicular temperature (laptop computers, hot tubs), chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and cancer treatment, poor diet, and obesity.

SpermComet test is a second-generation sperm DNA test and detects sperm that have sperm DNA damage. It helps identify DNA damage is associated with each sperm. For example, a 50% test score on a SpermComet test indicates an average of 50% DNA damage in each sperm. The sperm are stained with a fluorescent probe that interacts with the DNA molecule, a fragmented DNA causes the fluorescent signal to change, and it is monitored with the help of a flow cytometer.

The SpermComet test is helpful for men who may be suffering from unexplained infertility, arrested development of the embryo, poor blastocyst development, recurrent miscarriages, poor semen parameters and exposure to harmful chemicals.

The treatment for high sperm DNA fragmentation is contingent upon the cause of the same. Lifestyle modifications, giving up on drugs, smoking and alcohol, switching to healthier diet habits, undergoing surgical treatment for varicocele are some of the options available. Testicular sperm aspiration and ICSI are some of the other treatment options that can cure infertility.

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