Human papillomavirus in spermatozoa is efficiently removed by washing: A suitable approach for assisted reproduction

Claudio Fenizia, Cecilia Vittori, Monica Oneta, Bina Parrilla, Antonio Granata, Salomè Ibba, Mara Biasin, Mario Clerici, Daria Trabattoni, Valeria Savasi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research question: Is it possible, by sperm-washing spermatozoa from clinically HPV-positive men, to obtain spermatozoa free of human papillomavirus (HPV) to be employed in assisted reproduction? Design: This was an observational study performed on HPV-positive men. Freshly ejaculated semen was collected and readily processed by gradient separation followed by swim-up from the washed pellet. The resulting fractions were seminal plasma, cell pellet, round cells, non-motile spermatozoa and motile spermatozoa. All fractions were then tested for the presence of HPV DNA. Results: Of the 15 clinically HPV-positive subjects, 67% were positive in at least one of the seminal fractions. If any postivity was detected, the plasma was always HPV positive. No consistent pattern was observed throughout different samples in the cell pellet, round cell and non-motile spermatozoa fractions. However, after the sperm-wash procedure, the fraction of motile spermatozoa was never found to be HPV-positive. Conclusions: The sperm-washing technique, which was previously successfully used to remove human immunodeficiency virus, can efficiently remove HPV from spermatozoa. However, the present study was conducted on a small population so a larger follow-up study is recommended. HPV screening should be performed in sperm samples and, upon HPV positivity, sperm-washing should be considered before assisted reproduction techniques are used.

Original languageEnglish
JournalReproductive BioMedicine Online
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Feb 1 2020


  • Assisted reproduction
  • HPV-positive sperm
  • HPV-testing
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Sperm-wash

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Developmental Biology


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