Comparative analysis of tests used to assess sperm chromatin integrity and DNA fragmentation
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Male infertility has a complex etiology, and many times, the cause is unknown. While routine semen analysis provides an overview of basic semen parameters, such as sperm concentration, motility, viability and morphology, a significant overlap of these parameters has been reported in fertile and infertile men. Moreover, conventional semen parameters do not reveal the cellular or molecular mechanisms of sperm dysfunctions leading to infertility. Therefore, sperm functional parameters, including sperm chromatin integrity, are evaluated to provide information on subtle sperm defects that are not routinely identified. Incomplete or defective sperm chromatin condensation increases the susceptibility of the sperm DNA to oxidative damage or other factors. To evaluate sperm chromatin integrity, different methods with varying degrees of diagnostic and prognostic capabilities are available. Among these assays, SCSA, TUNEL and SCD assays are most commonly used. While these assays rather evaluate the DNA directly for damages, the aniline blue and chromomycin A3 stains test for the quality of chromatin condensation.