BACKGROUND: More than 70 million couples worldwide are affected by infertility, with male-factor infertility accounting for about half of the cases. Semen analysis is critical for determining male fertility potential, but conventional testing is costly and complex. Here, we demonstrate a paper-based microfluidic approach to quantify male fertility potential, simultaneously measuring 3 critical semen parameters in 10 min: live and motile sperm concentrations and sperm motility.
METHODS: The device measures the colorimetric change of yellow tetrazolium dye to purple formazan by the diaphorase flavoprotein enzyme present in metabolically active human sperm to quantify live and motile sperm concentration. Sperm motility was determined as the ratio of motile to live sperm. We assessed the performance of the device by use of clinical semen samples, in parallel with standard clinical approaches.
RESULTS: Detection limits of 8.46 and 15.18 million/mL were achieved for live and motile sperm concentrations, respectively. The live and motile sperm concentrations and motility values from our device correlated with those of the standard clinical approaches (R2 ≥ 0.84). In all cases, our device provided 100% agreement in terms of clinical outcome. The device was also robust and could tolerate conditions of high absolute humidity (22.8 g/m3) up to 16 weeks when packaged with desiccant.
CONCLUSIONS: Our device outperforms existing commercial paper-based assays by quantitatively measuring live and motile sperm concentrations and motility, in only 10 min. This approach is applicable to current clinical practices as well as self-diagnostic applications.
- Received for publication September 29, 2015.
- Accepted for publication December 11, 2015.
- © 2015 American Association for Clinical Chemistry