Double-stranded sperm DNA damage is a cause of delay in embryo development and can impair implantation rates

The present work shows that double-stranded sperm DNA damage may be an important male-factor parameter causing embryo delay and implantation failures.

Volume 111, Issue 4, Pages 699–707.e1


Aida Casanovas, M.Sc., Jordi Ribas-Maynou, Ph.D., Sandra Lara-Cerrillo, M.Sc., Ana Raquel Jimenez-Macedo, Ph.D., Olga Hortal, M.Sc., Jordi Benet, Ph.D., Joan Carrera, M.D., Agustín García-Peiró, Ph.D.



To analyze the effect of single- and double-stranded sperm DNA fragmentation (ssSDF and dsSDF) on human embryo kinetics monitored under a time-lapse system.


Observational, double blind, prospective cohort study.


University spin-off and private center.


One hundred ninety-six embryos from 43 infertile couples were included prospectively.



Main Outcome Measure(s)

SsSDF and dsSDF were analyzed in the same semen sample used for intracytoplasmic sperm injection. Embryo kinetics was then monitored using time-lapse technology, and the timing of each embryo division was obtained.


When comparing embryos obtained from semen samples with low dsSDF and high dsSDF, splitting data using a statistically significant delay in high dsSDF was observed in second polar body extrusion, T4, T8, morula, and starting blastocyst and embryo implantation rates were impaired. Embryo kinetics and implantation rates are not significantly affected when high values of ssSDF are present. Different patterns of delay in embryo kinetics were observed for these different types of DNA damage: dsSDF caused a delay along all stages of embryo development; however, its major effect was observed at the second polar body extrusion and morula stages, coinciding with embryo DNA damage checkpoint activation as described before; ssSDF had its major effect at the pronucleus stage, but embryo kinetics was then restored at all following stages. The results show that dsSDF could be the main type of DNA damage that affects embryo development in intracytoplasmic sperm injection cycles, probably due to motility-based sperm selection in this assisted reproduction procedure.


Double-stranded sperm DNA damage caused a delay in embryo development and impaired implantation, while single-stranded DNA damage did not significantly affect embryo kinetics and implantation.

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