A comparison of motility and head morphology of sperm using different semen processing methods and three different staining techniques

McAlister, Debra Ann (Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch, 2010-12)

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Sperm morphology remains an important parameter in the prediction of fertility, both in vivo and in vitro. However, there remains a considerable level of concern surrounding the true potential of this parameter due to the lack of standardization of differential staining techniques used for the evaluation of sperm morphology. This study aimed at investigating two commonly used staining techniques, Rapidiff® (RD) and Papanicolaou (PAP), along with a new commercially available stain, SpermBlue® (SB), in the evaluation of sperm morphometry and morphology. Results indicated that significant differences in sperm morphometry exist due to the use of the staining techniques. Findings further indicated that RD causes sperm head swelling while PAP causes sperm head shrinkage. Results obtained using the SB staining technique have indicated measurements closest to that which would be obtained through the evaluation of fresh, unstained sperm. The lack of standardization and the different effects various stains have on sperm structure and overall sperm morphology evaluation should raise a level of concern, particularly when evaluating patients with borderline morphology. Based on this, the use of the SB staining technique is recommended over RD and PAP for effective and accurate morphology evaluation. In further support of this technique, SB was shown to be quick and simple in method, and allowed for the easy detection of sperm by computer aided sperm analysis (CASA) systems such as the Sperm Class Analyzer (SCA®). The second aim of this study was to examine the concentration, morphology and motility of the resultant sperm populations following semen preparation using the PureSperm® density gradient and swim-up techniques. Semen preparation is an essential step in any fertility treatment protocol, and it is important that the sperm obtained following semen preparation has sperm morphology and motility characteristics capable of improving assisted fertility success rates. Currently, the PureSperm® density gradient and sperm swim-up are the most widely employed techniques in fertility clinics. Although there is sufficient evidence to suggest they are each effective at extracting sperm with improved quality from neat semen, there remains insufficient evidence to suggest which of these two techniques is superior. The present investigation revealed that both sperm preparation methods were effective at improving sperm morphology and motility, however to varying degrees. The swimup method yielded a population of sperm with superior motility and morphology when assessed according to World Health Organisation (WHO) criteria, while the PureSperm® density gradient technique isolated a higher percentage of normal sperm, according to both WHO and Tygerberg strict criteria, with motility better than that of neat semen. Although results obtained via the swim-up method suggest it would be best for use in in vitro fertilization (IVF), the very low concentration of sperm isolated via this method remains a significant draw-back. The PureSperm® density gradient separation technique on the other hand is capable of isolating larger quantities of sperm, which is likely to be of more benefit with fertility treatments requiring larger quantities of sperm. Based on these findings, the use of PureSperm® density gradient technique is recommended, due to its ability to isolate large quantities of good quality sperm. However, a swim-up may still be of use when performing fertility treatment using a sperm sample which possesses a high concentration and motility.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Sperm morfologie bly ‘n belangrike parameter in die voorspelling van vrugbaarheid, beide in vivo en in vitro. Tog is daar nogsteeds ‘n aansienklike vlak van kommer rondom die ware potensiaal van hierdie parameter weens die gebrek aan standardisering van verskillende kleuringstegnieke wat gebruik word vir die evaluering van spermmorfologie. Hierdie studie is daarop gemik om ondersoek in te stel na twee algemeen gebruikte kleurings tegnieke naamlik, Rapidiff® (RD) en Papanicolaou (PAP), asook ‘n nuwe kommersiëel beskikbare kleurstof, SpermBlue® (SB), vir die evaluering van spermmorfometrie en morfologie. Resultate dui aan dat beduidende verskille in sperm morfometriese afmetings ontstaan as gevolg van die gebruik van die verskillende kleurstowwe. Bevindinge dui verder daarop dat RD swelling van die sperm se kop versoorsaak, terwyl PAP die spermkop laat krimp. Resultate wat verkry is met behulp van die SB kleuringstegniek dui daarop dat hierdie kleurstof aanleiding gegee het tot afmetings naaste aan die verkry tydens die beoordeling van vars, ongekleurde sperme. Die gebrek aan standardisasie en die uiteenlopende effekte wat verskillende kleurstowwe het op die spermstruktuur en die evaluering van sperm morfologie ingeheel is kommerwekkend, veral tydens die evaluering van pasiënte met grensgeval morfologie. Op grond van hierdie resultate, word die gebruik van die SB kleuringstegniek, bo die gebruik van RD en PAP, vir effektiewe en akkurate morfologie evaluering aanbeveel. Verdere ondersteuning vir die gebruik van die SB kleuringstegniek is die feit dat daar bevind is dat SB ‘n vinnige en eenvoudige metode is, wat toelaat vir maklike visualisering van sperme deur rekenaargesteunde sperm analise sisteme soos die Sperm Class Analyzer (SCA®). Die tweede doel van hierdie studie was om die konsentrasie, morfologie en die motiliteit van spermpopulasies te ondersoek, soos verkry tydens die voorbereiding van semen deur gebruik te maak van die PureSperm® digtheidsgradiënt en op-swem tegnieke. Die voorbereiding van semen is ‘n noodsaaklike stap in enige vrugbaarheidsbehandeling protokol, aangesien dit belangrik is dat die sperme wat deur hierdie prosesse verkry word oor die nodige morfologiese en motiliteit eienskappe beskik wat in staat is om die sukses van vrugbaarheidsbehandelings te verbeter. Huidiglik is die PureSperm® digtheidsgradiënt en op-swem tegnieke die mees algemeen gebruikte tegnieke in vrugbaarheidsklinieke. Alhoewel daar voldoende bewyse is wat voorstel dat elke tegniek effektief is vir die ekstraksie van sperme met beter kwaliteit vanuit semen, bly daar steeds onvoldoende bewyse wat daarop dui dat een van hierdie twee tegnieke beter is as die ander een. Huidige navorsing het getoon dat beide sperm voorbereidings metodes daarin geslaag het om sperme met normale morfologie en beter motiliteit te selekteer. Die opswem metode het ‘n spermpopulasie met beter motiliteit en verbeterde morfologie gelewer, soos getoets volgens die WGO kriteria, terwyl die PureSperm digtheidsgradiënt tegniek sperme met verbeterde morfologie, volgens beide die WGO en Tygerberg Streng Kriteria, en ‘n redelike verbetering in sommige motiliteits parameters geselekteer het. Hoewel die resultate wat verkry word via die op-swem metode voorstel dat dit die beste metode vir die gebruik tydens in vitro bevrugting sou wees, bly die baie lae konsentrasie van sperme wat met hierdie metode verkry word ‘n belangrike nadeel. Die PureSperm® skeidingstegniek laat egter toe vir die isolering van groter hoeveelhede sperme, wat waarskynlik meer voordelig sal wees vir bevrugtingsbehandelings wat meer sperme benodig. Gebaseer op hierdie bevindinge, word die gebruik van die PureSperm® digtheidsgradiënt tegniek aanbeveel, as gevolg van hierdie tegniek se vermoë om groot hoeveelhede goeie gehalte sperm te isoleer. Daar kan egter nogsteeds van op-swem metodes gebruik gemaak word tydens vrugbaarheidsbehandeling indien die semenmonster beskik oor ‘n hoë konsentrasie sperme met goeie beweeglikheid.

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