Automated analysis of individual sperm cells using stain-free interferometric phase microscopy and machine learning

Simcha K. Mirsky, Itay Barnea, Mattan Levi, Hayit Greenspan, Natan T. Shaked*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Currently, the delicate process of selecting sperm cells to be used for in vitro fertilization (IVF) is still based on the subjective, qualitative analysis of experienced clinicians using non-quantitative optical microscopy techniques. In this work, a method was developed for the automated analysis of sperm cells based on the quantitative phase maps acquired through use of interferometric phase microscopy (IPM). Over 1,400 human sperm cells from 8 donors were imaged using IPM, and an algorithm was designed to digitally isolate sperm cell heads from the quantitative phase maps while taking into consideration both the cell 3D morphology and contents, as well as acquire features describing sperm head morphology. A subset of these features was used to train a support vector machine (SVM) classifier to automatically classify sperm of good and bad morphology. The SVM achieves an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of 88.59% and an area under the precision-recall curve of 88.67%, as well as precisions of 90% or higher. We believe that our automatic analysis can become the basis for objective and automatic sperm cell selection in IVF.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)893-900
Number of pages8
JournalCytometry. Part A : the journal of the International Society for Analytical Cytology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2017


FundersFunder number
Tel Aviv University


    • holography
    • in vitro fertilization
    • interference microscopy
    • machine learning
    • spermatozoa
    • support vector machine


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