Conception plans miscarry with sperm DNA damage

Sperm with damaged DNA are more likely to cause spontaneous pregnancy loss, report researchers.

However, it should be possible to reduce such losses during assisted conception if sperm are screened for DNA damage before injection, they say.

In a meta-analysis of data from 16 studies, a significant relationship was found between having a high frequency of sperm with elevated DNA damage and miscarriage among 2969 couples who conceived either spontaneously or via assisted conception.

A previous meta-analysis of seven studies reported an association between sperm with DNA damage and pregnancy loss after in vitro fertilization and intracytoplasmic sperm injection, say Lynne Robinson (Birmingham Women's Hospital, UK) and colleagues.

The current study reviews an additional nine studies and addresses the matter of DNA fragmentation in both spontaneous and assisted conception.

As reported in Human Reproduction, the researchers found a significant increase in miscarriage in patients with high DNA damage compared with those with low DNA damage, at a relative risk of 2.16.

Analysis of the different types of assays used to assess DNA damage showed that the terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) assay was the most reliable method for detecting damage that may cause a miscarriage.

"This method of analysis directly quantifies DNA damage by the incorporation of labeled dUTP [diphosphatase] into single- and double-stranded DNA breaks," explains the team.

The association between sperm DNA damage and miscarriage was also significant for the sperm chromatin structure assay but not for the COMET (also known as the Single Cell Gel Electrophoresis assay) or the acridine orange test.

"Tests for DNA damage and selection of undamaged sperm should be considered as part of the diagnostic and treatment pathways for those suffering from recurrent pregnancy loss," conclude Robinson and team.

In addition, further research is needed to investigate the mechanisms responsible for and preventing the DNA damage, they say.

Licensed from medwireNews with permission from Springer Healthcare Ltd. ©Springer Healthcare Ltd. All rights reserved. Neither of these parties endorse or recommend any commercial products, services, or equipment.

Sally Robertson

Written by

Sally Robertson

Sally first developed an interest in medical communications when she took on the role of Journal Development Editor for BioMed Central (BMC), after having graduated with a degree in biomedical science from Greenwich University.


Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Robertson, Sally. (2018, August 23). Conception plans miscarry with sperm DNA damage. News-Medical. Retrieved on July 18, 2024 from

  • MLA

    Robertson, Sally. "Conception plans miscarry with sperm DNA damage". News-Medical. 18 July 2024. <>.

  • Chicago

    Robertson, Sally. "Conception plans miscarry with sperm DNA damage". News-Medical. (accessed July 18, 2024).

  • Harvard

    Robertson, Sally. 2018. Conception plans miscarry with sperm DNA damage. News-Medical, viewed 18 July 2024,


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
Post a new comment

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.

You might also like...
From Africa to Eurasia: Genetic insights into human migration and cold adaptation