MACS technique

Anexina Columns

MACS - Magnetic Activated Cell Sorting

In cases of male infertility, one of the main factors in promoting assisted reproduction is to ensure an excellent selection of spermatozoa with maximum fertilising potential.

In this sense, the technique known as MACS (Magnetic Activated Cell Sorting) – also known as annexin columns – has become an exceptional advance that multiplies the possibilities of success in assisted reproduction.

When is MACS indicated?

Annexin V or MACS columns are a mechanism that has the capacity to facilitate the elimination of useless or defect-bearing cells. In this case, its function is applied to the selection of spermatozoa. The main benefit of this procedure is that it allows reproductive treatments to be carried out with optimal raw material, previously filtered and selected according to its reproductive potential. Thus, only the most suitable spermatozoa, the healthiest, purified, with a much lower percentage of morphological alterations, a much lower percentage of DNA fragmentation, and spermatozoa with better motility, pass to the subsequent stage, in such a way that the possibilities of conceiving an embryo, implanting it and giving rise to pregnancy are multiplied to the maximum. According to studies so far, the use of annexin columns can improve the results by 10-15%.

When to apply annexin columns

MACS is especially indicated for all men who suffer from severe infertility that prevents them from becoming fathers. And, above all, on those occasions in which spermatozoa have very high rates of DNA fragmentation, which have caused deficiencies in their mobility.

Thus, in addition to the cases already described, the use of annexin columns can be considered in situations of altered FISH, reduced embryo fertilisation rate, poor embryo quality, use of frozen samples, patients who have undergone radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatments, severe seminal factor, repeated failures after having applied other types of procedures, and even sterility of no known origin.

Brief description of the procedure

In order to take advantage of the process by which the body naturally eliminates defective cells – known as apoptosis – which also occurs in spermatozoa, the protein known as annexin V is added to metal spheres.

Over time, these elements end up adhering to the damaged sperm – but not to the healthy ones – and this is then exploited by exposing the whole to a magnetised system of columns to which the metal beads that were once attached to the damaged sperm stick.

As a result, all the other sperm – those that pass through the column – are characterised by their high quality, thus constituting a purified sample with a much greater chance of success when it comes to carrying out assisted fertilisation.

The procedure is, in short, efficient, safe, non-invasive and very reliable for the treatment of male infertility.

If you would like more information, at IREMA we can inform you about how we use this and other techniques to improve the results of assisted reproduction treatment.