Probes and Techniques for Sperm Evaluation by Flow Cytometry


Author’s address (for correspondence): Felipe Martínez-Pastor, INDEGSAL, University of León, 24071 León, Spain. E-mail:


Flow cytometry has become an important technique in sperm evaluation and is increasingly used both for routine assessment and for research in veterinary science. We have revised the literature, describing fluorescent probes that have been used for analysing spermatozoa by flow cytometry, regarding: viability, acrosomal status, capacitation, mitochondrial status, apoptotic markers, oxidative stress markers, DNA damage, sperm counting and sperm sizing. Details and problems of some techniques are reviewed, with special attention to the occurrence of non-sperm particles in the samples (‘debris’). New and promising aspects of flow cytometry, such as sperm sorting using viability markers as selection criteria, are highlighted. The relationship between flow cytometry analyses and fertility and their future improvements are considered.