Intervention improves assisted conception intracytoplasmic sperm injection outcomes for patients with high levels of sperm DNA fragmentation: a retrospective analysis

Andrology. 2016 Sep;4(5):903-10. doi: 10.1111/andr.12215. Epub 2016 May 27.


Sperm DNA fragmentation (SDF) is used in assisted reproductive technology (ART) programs as an indicator for sperm quality, although there is still a lack of consensus as to its clinical utility. In this retrospective study, we examined intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) outcomes of 1924 infertile patients who underwent SDF analysis using the sperm chromatin integrity test. ART patients were classified as having low [DNA fragmentation index (DFI) <29%] or high SDF (DFI ≥29%) and by whether or not an intervention [physiological intracytoplasmic sperm injection (PICSI), intracytoplasmic morphologically selected sperm injection (IMSI), testicular sperm extraction (TESE)/testicular sperm aspiration (TESA), frequent ejaculation] was performed. High SDF patients who did not have an intervention had a lower fertilization rate and poorer clinical outcomes from blastocyst transfers as compared with low SDF patients; the fertilization rate was 66.0% vs. 70.2% (p = 0.042), single embryo transfer (SET) fetal heart pregnancy rate was 28.5% vs. 45.2% (p = 0.042), and SET live birth rate was 24.9% vs. 40.6% (p = 0.060), respectively. Furthermore, high SDF patients who had an intervention had significantly improved blastocyst transfer outcomes, similar to those of low SDF patients; the SET live birth rate for high SDF intervention patients was 43.8% as compared with 24.9% for high SDF no intervention patients (p = 0.037) and 40.6% for low SDF patients (p = 0.446). Analysis of the three main intervention subgroups for high SDF patients revealed that TESE/TESA patients had the highest SET live birth rate; in comparison with 24.2% for high SDF patients who did not have an intervention, PICSI patients had 38.3% (p = 0.151), IMSI patients had 28.7% (p = 0.680), and TESE/TESA patients had 49.8% (p = 0.020). Our data suggest that SDF results indicate ICSI outcomes and that patients who have high SDF benefit from an intervention.

Keywords: SCIT; male infertility; sperm DNA fragmentation; sperm chromatin integrity test; testicular sperm.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • DNA Fragmentation*
  • Embryo Transfer
  • Female
  • Fertilization / physiology*
  • Fertilization in Vitro
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Rate*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sperm Injections, Intracytoplasmic / methods*