The applicability of the flow cytometric sperm chromatin structure assay in epidemiological studies

M. Spanò, A.H. Kolstad, S.B. Larsen, E. Cordelli, G. Leter, A. Giwercman, J.P. Bonde

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The impact of demographic, lifestyle, and seminal factors on the sperm chromatin structure assay (SCSA) parameters was evaluated in a population of 277 healthy Danish men. This cohort was established within the framework of a European Concerted Action on occupational hazards to male reproductive capability in order to examine the possible reproductive effects of exposure to styrene or pesticides. The SCSA measures the susceptibility of sperm DNA to in-situ acid-induced denaturation, by multi-parameter flow cytometric analysis after staining with the DNA-specific fluorescent dye acridine orange. The green versus red bivariate cytogram patterns were quite variable among donors, showing a wide heterogeneity of sperm DNA denaturability. Nevertheless, in those cases where we had the possibility to measure two semen samples from the same donor, the cytogram pattern remained stable over time (0.64 < r < 0.78). Analysis of variance demonstrated that the SCSA results can be influenced by the age of the donor (P < 0.0001), smoking habits (P < 0.05), the presence of leukocytes and immature germ forms in the ejaculate (P < 0.0001), and the duration of sexual abstinence (P < 0.0001). Furthermore, the relationship between the SCSA data and sperm concentration, morphology, and vitality was weak (-0.22 < r < -0.46). Therefore, the SCSA provides independent and complementary measurements of semen quality and is thus a useful tool for epidemiological studies, but the effects of some confounders should be accounted for in the survey design and analysis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2495 - 2505
Number of pages11
JournalHuman Reproduction
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology

Cite this

Spanò, M., Kolstad, A. H., Larsen, S. B., Cordelli, E., Leter, G., Giwercman, A., & Bonde, J. P. (1998). The applicability of the flow cytometric sperm chromatin structure assay in epidemiological studies. Human Reproduction, 13(9), 2495 - 2505.