UB Fertility Researchers Find They Can Predict Pregnancy By Assessing Two Sperm Abnormalities

the egg," Burkman said. "When pregnancy did not occur, the possibility existed that the sperm failed at one or more points in the fertilization process."

For this study, researchers analyzed semen samples from 250 consecutive patients who came to their andrology laboratory, housed in Children's Hospital of Buffalo. Samples were rejected if the male did not follow instructions carefully or if the samples were more than one hour old.

Each sperm slide was scored for percentage of sperm showing the premature acrosome reaction or evidence of chromosomal decondensation. These scores then were correlated with the couples' pregnancy results, grouped as natural pregnancies, intrauterine inseminations and in vitro fertilizations (IUI/IVF), or no pregnancies.

Results showed a very low incidence of chromosomal decondensation or acrosome reaction in the natural pregnancy group, while in the no-pregnancy group, the rates for both errors were significantly higher.

Based on these data, the researchers established fertility thresholds of 14 percent chromosomal decondensation and 7 percent premature acrosome reactions, then tested their criteria on subsequent new pregnancies. They found that of the 29 couples who later achieved a pregnancy, 82 percent fit the new semen criteria.

"Eighty percent of what we guessed would happen, happened," Burkman said. "This also means that only 20 percent of the problem semen cases could be linked to a pregnancy. So couples with either of these errors have greatly reduced pregnancy potential.

"Fifteen years ago, we knew so little about the human sperm that we couldn't come close to models for predicting pregnancy," she said. "We know much more now."

Also participating in the study were Kent Crickard, M.D., Frank Gonzalez, M.D., and Hemlata Bhakoo, Ph.D., all of UB and Children's Hospital, and MaryLou M. Bodziak of Children's Hospital.


Contact: Lois Baker
University at Buffalo

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