Rapid selection of sperm with high DNA integrity†
Sperm selection is essential to assisted reproductive technology (ART), influencing treatment outcomes and the health of offspring. The fundamental challenge of sperm selection is dictated by biology: a heterogeneous population of ~108 sperm per milliliter with a short lifetime in vitro. However, conventional sperm selection approaches result in less than 50% improvement in DNA integrity. Here, a clinically applicable microfluidic device is presented that selects sperm based on the progressive motility in 500 parallel microchannels. The result is a one-step procedure for semen purification and high DNA integrity sperm selection from 1 mL of raw semen in under 20 minutes. Experiments with bull sperm indicate more than 89% improvement in selected sperm vitality. Clinical tests with human sperm show more than 80% improvement in human DNA integrity, significantly outperforming the best current practices. These results demonstrate the presence of a sub-population of sperm with nearly intact chromatin and DNA integrity, and a simple clinically-applicable lab-on-a-chip method to select this population.