Evaluation of sperm head shape at high magnification revealed correlation of sperm DNA fragmentation with aberrant head ellipticity and angularity

Abnormal head shape of fresh motile spermatozoa evaluated by elliptic Fourier analysis reflected sperm DNA fragmentation, providing a rationale for selecting spermatozoa by microscopic shape assessment in the IMSI procedure.


Hiroki Utsuno, Ph.D., Kenji Oka, M.D., Ayako Yamamoto, B.A., Tanri Shiozawa, M.D., Ph.D.

Volume 99, Issue 6, Pages 1573-1580.e1, May 2013



To test for association between DNA fragmentation and head shape at high magnification in fresh motile spermatozoa.


Observational study.


Academic tertiary care center.


A total of 60 men in our assisted reproductive program.


Quantifying sperm head shape using elliptic Fourier analysis, and detecting DNA fragmentation by use of a terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) assay.

Main Outcome Measures:

Correlation between percentage of spermatozoa with abnormal head shape and percentage of DNA fragmentation.


Elliptic Fourier analysis decomposed sperm head shape into four quantitative parameters: ellipticity, antero-posterior (AP) symmetry, lateral symmetry and angularity. DNA fragmentation was significantly correlated with abnormal angularity, and moderately with abnormal ellipticity, but not with abnormal AP symmetry and lateral symmetry. Forward stepwise multiple logistic regression analysis revealed significantly higher percentage of DNA fragmentation in spermatozoa with abnormal ellipticity and abnormal angularity than in spermatozoa with normal-shaped head (6.1% and 5.4% vs. 2.8%). Spermatozoa with large nuclear vacuoles also correlated with sperm DNA fragmentation, and had si 38 gnificantly higher percentage of DNA fragmentation (4.7%).


Among morphologic features of sperm head, abnormal ellipticity, angularity and large nuclear vacuoles would associate with DNA fragmentation.

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