DNA fragmentation in spermatozoa

What is sperm DNA fragmentation?

Sperm DNA fragmentation, or sperm fragmentation, refers to lesions, damage or breaks in the genetic material of the sperm, and is one of the main causes of infertility in men.

Prognosis of the disease

Depending on the degree of fragmentation, there are viable treatments, although if the lesion occurs in both DNA strands it is very difficult to repair. In addition, if the lesion is severe, the cell destruction mechanisms are set in motion and the sperm will no longer have the capacity to fertilize or give rise to a viable embryo.

Symptoms of sperm DNA fragmentation

This is an asymptomatic pathology since it affects the DNA of the spermatozoa. Its diagnosis will be carried out in case the patient detects that he/she suffers from a difficulty in conceiving or one or more miscarriages occur.

Medical tests for sperm DNA fragmentation

There are tests to detect breaks and others that measure the ability of DNA to denature in the face of certain treatments. TUNEL, SCSA, SCD or comet tests, among others, are used to study DNA fragmentation.

It is advisable to follow a healthy lifestyle to prevent sperm DNA fragmentation.

What are the causes of sperm DNA fragmentation?

The causes of DNA fragmentation in spermatozoa can be intrinsic (due to incorrect maturation of the sperm or genetic alterations) or external (due to damage induced by radio or chemotherapy treatments, episodes of high fever, or acute and chronic inflammatory disease, among others). On the other hand, diabetes and overweight can also be some of the causes of this pathology.

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Can it be prevented?

The prevention of this pathology is based on trying to avoid some of its causes such as wearing tight clothing and consuming certain medications, tobacco and alcohol. Following a healthy lifestyle will also help prevent fragmentation.

Treatments for sperm DNA fragmentation

Treatment may vary according to some factors such as the type of DNA lesion, the percentage affected and the quality of the oocyte, which will generally depend on the patient’s age. In some cases, the oocyte itself can even repair the DNA damage of the sperm that fertilized it.

Part of the treatment can be carried out by means of oral antioxidants, although the most effective is the selection of spermatozoa by means of annexin-V columns prior to fertility treatment. This technique allows spermatozoa to be separated and non-fragmented sperm to be selected.

Medications for sperm DNA fragmentation

The treatment can be based on oral antioxidants, which can help to eliminate part of the causes of this pathology and after 10 weeks of treatment the lesions are reduced and the sperm’s potential is improved.

Which specialist treats it?

Assisted Reproduction and Embryology specialists are the ones in charge of diagnosing and treating sperm DNA fragmentation.