Diagnosis of male infertility has mainly been based on the World Health Organization (WHO) manual-based semen parameter's concentration, motility and morphology. It has, however, become apparent that none of these parameters are reliable markers for evaluation of the fertility potential of a couple. A search for better markers has led to an increased focus on sperm chromatin integrity testing in fertility work-up and assisted reproductive techniques. During the last couple of decades, numerous sperm DNA integrity tests have been developed. These are claimed to be characterized by a lower intraindividual variation, less intralaboratory and interlaboratory variation and thus less subjective than the conventional sperm analysis. However, not all the sperm chromatin integrity tests have yet been shown to be of clinical value. So far, the test that has been found to have the most stable clinical threshold values in relation to fertility is the sperm chromatin structure assay (SCSA), a flow cytometric test that measures the susceptibility of sperm DNA to acid-induced DNA denaturation in situ. Sperm DNA fragmentation as measured by SCSA has shown to be an independent predictor of successful pregnancy in first pregnancy planners as well as in couples undergoing intrauterine insemination, and can be used as a tool in investigation, counseling and treatment of involuntary childlessness. More conflicting data exist regarding the role of sperm DNA fragmentation in relation to fertilization, pre-embryo development and pregnancy outcome in in vitro fertilization and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).Asian Journal of Andrology advance online publication, 8 November 2010; doi:10.1038/aja.2010.73.
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