Sperm DNA damage: How relevant is it clinically?

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Purpose of review: The true impact of the current sperm DNA fragmentation testing needs further scrutiny to assess whether clinically meaningful information is conveyed. Recent findings: Various studies have suggested different or no threshold values with assorted tests for the percentage of DNA fragmentation in the ejaculated sperm above which natural conception, fertilization or embryo development and/or clinical pregnancy rates are compromised. Current DNA fragmentation assessment methods provide very little specific information on the nature and severity of the DNA damage detected. Although sperm DNA fragmentation is associated with lower pregnancy rates through natural conception or intrauterine insemination, it does not seem to affect intracytoplasmic sperm injection outcome. Although animal studies demonstrated adverse reproductive effects of sperm DNA fragmentation, any conclusive evidence in humans is yet to be demonstrated. It is not clear whether interventions aimed at enrichment of sperm with decreased DNA fragmentation are effective in preventing the potential adverse effects of sperm DNA fragmentation in humans. Major concern about the use of sperm DNA integrity tests as prognostic parameters is that the direct evaluation of DNA fragmentation in individual sperm fertilizing the oocyte is not possible. Summary: The lack of consensus in defining a clinically relevant standard DNA fragmentation test with a meaningful cut-off level brings challenges in implementing the routine use of sperm DNA integrity assessment in daily practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)172-179
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2012


  • DNA integrity
  • IVF
  • assisted reproductive technologies
  • comet
  • intracytoplasmic sperm injection
  • sperm chromatin structure assay, sperm DNA fragmentation, TUNEL

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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