A microfluidic approach to rapid sperm recovery from heterogeneous cell suspensions

Steven A. Vasilescu, Shayan Khorsandi, Lin Ding, Sajad Razavi Bazaz, Reza Nosrati, Debra Gook, Majid Ebrahimi Warkiani

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5 Citations (Scopus)


The isolation of sperm cells from background cell populations and debris is an essential step in all assisted reproductive technologies. Conventional techniques for sperm recovery from testicular sperm extractions stagnate at the sample processing stage, where it can take several hours to identify viable sperm from a background of collateral cells such as white bloods cells (WBCs), red blood cells (RBCs), epithelial cells (ECs) and in some cases cancer cells. Manual identification of sperm from contaminating cells and debris is a tedious and time-consuming operation that can be suitably addressed through inertial microfluidics. Microfluidics has proven an effective technology for high-quality sperm selection based on motility. However, motility-based selection methods cannot cater for viable, non-motile sperm often present in testicular or epididymal sperm extractions and aspirations. This study demonstrates the use of a 3D printed inertial microfluidic device for the separation of sperm cells from a mixed suspension of WBCs, RBCs, ECs, and leukemic cancer cells. This technology presents a 36-fold time improvement for the recovery of sperm cells (> 96%) by separating sperm, RBCS, WBCs, ECs and cancer cells into tight bands in less than 5 min. Furthermore, microfluidic processing of sperm has no impact on sperm parameters; vitality, motility, morphology, or DNA fragmentation of sperm. Applying inertial microfluidics for non-motile sperm recovery can greatly improve the current processing procedure of testicular sperm extractions, simplifying the fertility outcomes for severe forms of male infertility that warrant the surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7917
Number of pages11
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2021

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