Sperm DNA fragmentation and mitochondrial membrane potential combined are better for predicting natural conception than standard sperm parameters

Sperm DNA fragmentation and mitochondrial membrane potential combined are superior to standard sperm parameters in predicting natural conception.

Slađana Malić Vončina, M.D., Barbara Golob, Ph.D., Alojz Ihan, M.D., Ph.D., Andreja Nataša Kopitar, Ph.D., Mojca Kolbezen, B.Sc., Branko Zorn, M.D., Ph.D.

Volume 105, Issue 3, Pages 637-644


To evaluate whether DNA fragmentation and/or mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) predict natural conception better than standard sperm parameters.

Prospective cross-sectional study.

University medical center.

Eighty-five infertile and 51 fertile men.

Assessment of sperm DNA fragmentation, MMP, and standard semen parameters over a 6- to 12-month observation period.

Main Outcome Measure(s):
Comparison between the results of DNA fragmentation, MMP, and standard sperm parameters alone or combined and achievement of natural conception.

Twenty-six of the 85 (31%) men from infertile couples conceived naturally. The median values of DNA fragmentation and MMP in the men who conceived within the observation period were similar to those in the fertile controls. Optimal threshold values of DNA fragmentation and MMP were 25% as determined by receiver operating characteristic analysis (area under the curve [AUC], 0.70; [95% confidence interval {CI}, 0.58–0.82]) and 62.5% (AUC, 0.68 [95% CI, 0.56–0.80]), respectively. The men in the infertile group with values of DNA fragmentation ≤25% and with MMP values ≥62.5% had significantly higher odds for conception (odds ratio [OR], 5.22 [95% CI, 1.82–14.93] and OR, 4.67 [95% CI, 1.74–12.5], respectively). Normal semen analysis alone had no predictive value for natural conception (OR, 1.84 [95% CI, 0.67–5.07]). Both sperm function tests combined had significant odds for natural conception (OR, 8.24 [95% CI, 2.91–23.33]), with a probability of 0.607 (60.7%) for both normal values and 0.158 (15.8%) for abnormal values.

Sperm DNA fragmentation and MMP combined may be superior to standard semen parameters for the prediction of natural conception.

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