Towards microfluidic sperm refinement: impedance-based analysis and sorting of sperm cells

B. de Wagenaar, Stefan Dekker, Hans L. de Boer, Johan G. Bomer, Wouter Olthuis, Albert van den Berg, Loes Irene Segerink

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    The use of high quality semen for artificial insemination in the livestock industry is essential for successful outcome. Insemination using semen with a high number of sperm cells containing morphological defects has a negative impact on fertilization outcome. Therefore, semen with a high number of these abnormal cells is discarded in order to maintain high fertilization potential, resulting in the loss of a large number of morphologically normal sperm cells (up to 70-80% of original sample). A commonly occurring morphological sperm anomaly is the cytoplasmic droplet on the sperm flagella. Currently, no techniques are available to extract morphologically normal sperm cells from rejected samples. Therefore, we aim to develop a microfluidic setup which is able to detect and sort morphologically normal sperm cells label-free and non-invasively. In a proof-of-concept experiment, differential impedance measurements were used to detect the presence of cytoplasmic droplets on sperm flagella, which was quantified by calculating the area under the curve (AUC) of the corresponding impedance peaks. A receiver operating characteristic curve of this electrical analysis method showed the good predictive power of this analysis method (AUC value of 0.85). Furthermore, we developed a label-free cell sorting system using LabVIEW, which is capable of sorting sperm cells based on impedance. In a proof-of-concept experiment, sperm cells and 3 mu m beads were sorted label-free and non-invasively using impedance detection and dielectrophoresis sorting. These experiments present our first attempt to perform sperm refinement using microfluidic technology.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1514-1522
    Number of pages9
    JournalLab on a chip
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


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