Computer Assisted Sperm Analysis- Using the iSperm
The analysis of sperm has long centered around 3 important aspects:
- the way the sperm cells look (morphology)
- the total number of them in an ejaculate (sperm count)
- the sperm's motility, particularly progressive motility which shows how many sperm in sample are moving in a forward direction
So to best predict what is a suitable sample for breeding, we usually want to see a sperm count of 100 million normal appearing, progressively motile cells. Beyond that, we would prefer morphology to be about 70% normal or better, and progressive motility to be around 75% or better. While these values are not always achievable, when we take into account the total count multiplied by the progressive motility and multiply this by normal morphology, our aimed breeding dose should equal 100 million. For example a Rottweiler that produces an ejaculate of 700 million but has normal morphology of 60% and progressive motley of around 50%, really has only a normal semen count of 700 x 0.6 x 0.5= 210 million.
Computer assisted analysis offers a lot of advantage over traditional methods of counting and measurement of motility. Hemocytometer counts are generally accepted as very accurate, but are still estimates based on dilution of samples and can be fairly time consuming. The computer can generate tremendously accurate counts as well at concentrations of 50-150 million cells/ml but can do this within a few seconds making it easier to assay larger numbers of samples faster.
Motility traditionally was estimated by clinician observation by light microscope and these estimates can vary widely between 2 technicians or veterinarians. Also the handling of the samples (temperature and dilution can affect the outcome of estimated motility) For instance, concentrated samples are more likely to have sperm colliding with one another and tend to overestimate the motility of the cells. Samples that are not held at proper temperatures, can cool and progressive motility can be lower than as reported before.
The computer assisted analysis allows for the sample to be both continuously kept at the proper temperature (what would be expected in utero) and can accurately measure movement of the cells in all directions in a fraction of a second. They can even distinguish between normal and abnormal motility and calculate speed of the cells. Thus the iSperm gives us the ability to be objective and accurate.
All of this leads to better estimation of sperm quality and can help in making decisions like whether a single sample can be split and used over multiple days or in multiple bitches. The collection of data over time can help us detect problems with sperm production and storage in the dog’s reproductive tract earlier.
The technology can be invaluable in determining how many straws need to be thawed for a single TCI using frozen semen or how many straws we can save/store when processing the sample.
We love our new iSperm now in use at Newport Harbor Animal Hospital and expect to make many more pregnancies happen in future and accommodate more studs for collection for both shipment and storage of sperm.