CometFertility® is one of the diagnostic tests carried out by Clinica Tambre to obtain a diagnosis related to the male factor. This technique analyses the DNA fragmentation that can occur in a semen sample. But…what is fragmentation and when is it indicated?
Fragmentation is defined as the presence of breaks in the DNA (molecule that contains all the genetic information in the sperm and in all our cells). The DNA molecule is composed of two strands that form a double helix. These breaks can occur in one of the strands, which is the case of simple fragmentation, or in both, in which case it would be called double fragmentation.
What is important to know about DNA fragmentation?
Fragmentation is a form of damage that can be found in the genetic content of the sperm cell, i.e. its DNA. It contains the genetic information that is passed on from generation to generation and it is made up of small molecules that form a long chain of two strands. Although DNA is usually protected, it can sometimes be damaged and broken for various reasons. This breakage or injury to the DNA is called fragmentation.
There are two types of fragmentation, simple fragmentation or single strand breaks and double fragmentation or double-stranded breaks in the DNA. It is crucial to understand the differences in this classification, as each has different implications. Single-strand fragmentation is often associated with increased time in achieving a natural pregnancy, failed IVF cycles and a lower rate of conception. On the other hand, double fragmentation is related to repeated miscarriages or low embryonic quality in the cycles, since after fertilization, the oocyte cannot «solve» this anomaly presented by the sperm cell, therefore negative effects appear both in the embryonic development or in the course of a pregnancy.
How to detect DNA fragmentation?
Occasionally, Clinica Tambre’s specialists are faced with cases where patients present idiopathic infertility, that is, a situation in which there seems to be no reason that can explain why a pregnancy does not occur. When tests carried out on the male, such as the seminogram, have a positive result (normozoospermia) and so do other tests carried out on the woman, such as the endometrial receptivity test, fertility specialists will also request other types of tests. We may refer these patients to the Immunology Unit or the Urology Unit. However, it is also probable, as we explain, that the Andrology Laboratory will require tests to extend the study of the male factor in order to make a more in-depth diagnosis. One of the tests they may recommend is CometFertility®, a highly sensitive technique which allows us to detect both single and double chain fragmentation.
Thanks to the analysis carried out by CometFertility®, either of the two types of fragmentation mentioned above can become apparent. If the sperm fragmentation is altered in the ejaculate, depending on the predominant type, the proposed treatment will be different, specific and personalized.
In general, altered simple fragmentation will be treated with oral antioxidant medication. On the other hand, when high double chain fragmentation is observed, Tambre professionals may decide to use a specific device to select the least fragmented spermatozoa, called the FERTILE® chip. This technique can also be complemented with specific oral medication.