Advanced Tests & Procedures

Many tests are available to provide more specific information about sperm formation and sperm function than a semen analysis can provide. Sperm function tests determine if some of the steps sperm need to go through to fertilize an egg are normal (see next page). Other advanced tests determine if there are abnormal levels of free radicals that may damage sperm. Electron microscopy is used to determine if there is a structural reason for very poor motility (axoneme dysmorphology) or other sperm structure problems.

Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA), (Testis Mapping) analysis. Testis mapping of spermatogenesis performed on samples taken from numerous sites by a surgeon.

Sperm DNA Fragmentation. Sperm DNA is easily damaged by oxidative stress, environmental toxicants, therapies and other exposures. We use the neutral COMET, alkaline Sperm Chromatin Diffusion and SCSA methods of quantifying DNA integrity, and a purification technique to attempt to isolate sperm with lower DNA damage.

Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) Assay and Antioxidant Assay.  During inflammation, chemotherapy, or exposure to toxicants, the body may respond by producing ROS. These damaging molecules are counteracted by antioxidants. Both can be measured in semen and purified sperm.  

SU10-3133-A1 001

Other Advanced Tests
Electron Microscopy -  identifies defects in the ultrastructure of the acrosome, nucleus, centrosome, tail or axoneme. For example it is used to identify missing dynein arms related to Kartagener’s syndrome (a form of ciliary dyskinesia, leading to immotile sperm).   Right: Abnormal axoneme (the microtubules that bend) in a sperm tail.

Anti-Sperm Antibodies - detects antibodies directed against sperm that may have impacts on sperm motility, viability and fertilization potential. 

Sperm Molecules - some tests are experimental; identifies the presence or absence of essential molecules such as phospholipase C zeta (needed to stimulate egg activation during fertilization), and other critical molecules. We use fluorescence immunocytochemistry and flow cytometer to evaluate these molecules and study their localization and appearance in purified sperm and in sperm undergoing capacitation.

Below: A molecule essential for fertilization is seen in green in this video.

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