DNA Fragmentation Test

Definition - What does DNA Fragmentation Test mean?

A DNA fragmentation test evaluates the DNA damage in sperm cells, which may negatively impact the chances of a successful pregnancy regardless of the fertility treatments being used. This test helps predict outcome in couples undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). The greater the breaks in the DNA, the greater the percentage of DNA fragmentation. Sperm DNA fragmentation greater than 25.5% signals a high probability of failure of IVF treatment.

FertilitySmarts explains DNA Fragmentation Test

The genetic constitution of the sperm is crucial for fertilization and normal embryo development. Damaged sperm DNA tends to increase the rate of miscarriage. A high level of DNA damage in sperm cells may account for cases of unexplained male infertility where conventional sperm examinations are normal.

What actually triggers sperm DNA fragmentation is not clear. Exposure to environmental toxins and pollutants, harmful drugs, cigarette smoking, chemo-radiation, high fever, prolonged illness, and advancing age may make a sperm DNA prone to breakage or fragmentation.

In order to measure the DNA fragmentation, the semen sample is taken and sent to a sperm DNA fragmentation center for testing. Several tests are available for determining the DNA fragmentation. These include sperm chromatin structure assay, Terminal Deoxynucleotidyl Transferase-Mediated dUTP Nick-End Labeling (TUNEL), Comet assay, and sperm chromatin dispersion test. Some of these use chemicals or enzymes whereas others use electric current to determine the breakage of the DNA strands. Sperm which carries high levels of fragmented DNA is expected to take up a greater amount of the dye or chemical.

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