Pitfalls and promises in FTIR spectromicroscopy analyses to monitor iron-mediated DNA damage in sperm

Lorella Pascolo, Diana E. Bedolla, Lisa Vaccari, Irene Venturin, Francesca Cammisuli, Alessandra Gianoncelli, Elisa Mitri, Elena Giolo, Stefania Luppi, Monica Martinelli, Marina Zweyer, Giuseppe Ricci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many drugs, chemicals, and environmental factors can impair sperm functionality by inducing DNA damage, one of the important causes of reduced fertility potential. The use of vibrational spectromicroscopy represents a promising approach for monitoring DNA integrity in sperm, although some limitations exist, depending from the experimental conditions. Here, we report that when using FTIR spectromicroscopy to reveal oxidative stress mediated by Fenton's reaction on hydrated sperm samples, DNA damage interpretation is partially compromised by unexpected cell surface precipitates. The precipitates give a broad band in the 1150-1000 cm-1 infrared region, which partially covers one of the signatures of DNA (phosphate stretching bands), and are detected as iron and oxygen containing material when using XRF spectroscopy. On the other hand, the analyses further support the potential of FTIR spectromicroscopy to reveal cellular oxidative damage events such as lipid peroxidation, protein misfolding and aggregations, as well as DNA strain breaks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-46
Number of pages8
JournalReproductive Toxicology
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2016


  • DNA damage
  • Fenton's reaction
  • Fourier transform infraRed (FTIR)
  • Oxidative stress
  • Phosphate stretching bands
  • Sperm integrity
  • Vibrational spectromicroscopy
  • X-ray fluorescence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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