Toluidine Blue Test for Sperm DNA Integrity and Elaboration of Image Cytometry Algorithm

Jekaterina Erenpreisa, Juris Erenpreiss, Talivaldis Freivalds, Maija Slaidina, Rasma Krampe, Jelena Butikova, Andrey Ivanov, Dace Pjanova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Sperm DNA integrity is of paramount importance in the prognosis of fertility. We applied image cytometry to a toluidine blue (TB) test we recently proposed. Methods: Sperm samples from 33 men were assayed for standard sperm parameters and classified as normal or abnormal. Sperm smears were subjected to the TB test, DNA denaturation testing with acridine orange (AO), and terminal deoxyuridine triphosphate biotin nick end labeling (TUNEL). In CCD image analysis, TB-stained sperm cell heads were microscopically assigned to one of four color groups (dark, blue, light violet, and light blue). The optical densities of 6,600 cells in green and red CCD images were used to elaborate an algorithm for discrimination of these groups. Results: The proportions of sperm in TB color groups, as estimated with the developed image cytometry algorithm, correlated with microscopic features. The number of TB dark cells correlated with the number of AO-red and TUNEL+ cells. The proportion of TB dark cells in normal samples did not exceed 35%. Light-blue sperm cell heads prevailed in normal samples, whereas dark and blue sperm cell heads dominated in abnormal samples. Conclusions: The TB test was suitable for the assessment of sperm cell DNA integrity. The elaborated image cytometry algorithm can be used for this purpose and for finer determination of sperm nucleus status.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-27
Number of pages9
JournalCytometry Part A
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Image cytometry
  • Infertility
  • Sperm DNA integrity
  • Toluidine blue test

Field of Science*

  • 3.1 Basic medicine

Publication Type*

  • 1.1. Scientific article indexed in Web of Science and/or Scopus database


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