DNA Fragmentation Testing

All About Sperm DNA Fragmentation Test

What is DNA fragmentation?

DNA fragmentation describes the process of DNA strands separating into pieces. It can occur normally, or laboratory personnel can do it intentionally. The accumulation of fragmentation that occurs in a cell refers to spontaneous DNA fragmentation. The TUNEL assay and Comet assay can measure it. The level of sperm DNA fragmentation is often high in men who have a defect of sperm mobility. The prediction of outcomes for IVF depends on the degree of the sperm cell’s DNA fragmentation. In the sperm, the integrity of genetic material is a determining factor to make the fertilization successful. It is also essential for the development of a normal embryo.

The usage of the term sperm DNA fragmentation denotes abnormal genetic material in a sperm. It can cause IVF failure, male subfertility, and miscarriages. The assessment of the sperm DNA cannot be done by the conventional semen analysis.
In the market, there are many sperm DNA fragmentation tests are available like the Sperm Comet test, SCSA, and TUNEL.

Everything You Need to Know About DNA fragmentation

Causes | How Test Performed | Test Results | Who should | Benefits | Treatment Option

What causes DNA fragmentation?

Oxidative stress has one of the major contributions to sperm DNA fragmentation. If the antioxidants do not neutralize the free radicals and unpaired electrons, it can cause built-up damage and results in oxidative stress. Infections, use of drugs, smoking, and exposure to pollutants, illness, diabetes, cancer and elevated testicular temperature can have an association with sperm DNA fragmentation.

It also has a relation with obesity and poor diet. Sometimes, the body is unable to repair the occurrence of a break-in DNA as it lacks the sufficient protein that helps in binding the DNA to keep it compact. In this condition, Sperm DNA fragmentation occurs.

What can sperm DNA fragmentation lead to?

  • It can affect the development of a blastocyst.
  • It can increase the chance of miscarriage
  • And can result in the failure of assisted conception treatment.

It has been seen that subfertile men with abnormal sperm parameters have a higher range of sperm DNA fragmentation, but it can also happen to men with normal sperm parameters.

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How the DNA fragmentation test is performed?

The different Sperm DNA fragmentation tests include the deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick end labeling assay (TUNEL), the sperm chromatin dispersion test (SCD), the sperm chromatin structure assay (SCSA), and single-cell gel electrophoresis assay (COMET).

These tests verify DNA damage in the sample of semen. The procedure occurs in the outside laboratory and the semen sample is the primary matter here.

Understanding DNA test results

The understanding of DNA fragmentation test results is important. The meaning of high sperm DNA damage is the poor quality of sperm. Low sperm DNA damage shows the good quality of the sperm. In the exact test result, you will get to see a comparison between the three different indicators of DNA fragmentation and a fertile reference range.

Who should undergo this test?

There were many studies and investigations on the DNA fragmentation test. But the conclusion of the 2013 American Society for Reproductive Medicine Practice (ASRM) was that they don’t have sufficient data to support the relationship between reproductive outcomes and the increased DNA fragmentation. Only DNA fragmentation testing cannot predict the rates of pregnancy.

Benefits of DNA fragmentation test

There are a lot of benefits of DNA fragmentation tests. This test gives information about the arrested embryo development, recurrent miscarriage, unexplained infertility, varicocele, harmful substance exposure, failure in multiple treatments of in vitro fertilization, development of poor blastocyst, poor semen parameters.

What are treatment options in case of increased DNA Fragmentation?

Once you know the results, we can choose a way of treatment to correct it. If free radicals are the reason behind it, you can change your diet and lifestyle to decrease the DNA fragmentation levels. Other than this, antibiotics can help in the co-existing infection. You can include fresh foods in your diet along with foods that contain vitamin C, vitamin E, and antioxidants. You also need to quit smoking and consuming drugs. One should opt for ICSI. If you do the DNA fragmentation test, then you get to know about treatments to cure it.

Conclusion

In the workup for infertile males, the most used test is semen analysis. The research does not show that we can only rely on this test for the prediction of the fertility of men, or it can ensure the occurrence of the pregnancy with the treatment of infertility.

For the determination of the fertilizing capacity of men, researchers and clinicians find other ways. The requirement for developing a successful embryo is undamaged DNA from the sperm and egg. In infertile men, sperm DNA damage is more and can cause poor reproductive outcomes. So, doctors also assess fertility potential by testing DNA integrity.

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Smoking comes as one of the most injurious habits to a person’s health and even when it comes to the fertility aspect, the impact is no different. This is where most of the fertility experts advise their clients to quit smoking whilst they are planning to have a child and it further lay a negative impact on the overall health of the future child in the process. Let’s see the 10 Ways Smoking kills Your Fertility.

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