Sperm motility assessed by deep convolutional neural networks into WHO categories.

Semen analysis is central in infertility investigation. Manual assessment of sperm motility according to the WHO recommendations is the golden standard, and extensive training is a requirement for accurate and reproducible results. Deep convolutional neural networks (DCNN) are especially suitable for image classification. In this study, we evaluated the performance of the DCNN ResNet-50 in predicting the proportion of sperm in the WHO motility categories. Two models were evaluated using tenfold cross-validation with 65 video recordings of wet semen preparations from an external quality assessment programme for semen analysis. The corresponding manually assessed data was obtained from several of the reference laboratories, and the mean values were used for training of the DCNN models. One model was trained to predict the three categories progressive motility, non-progressive motility, and immotile spermatozoa. Another model was used in predicting four categories, where progressive motility was differentiated into rapid and slow. The resulting average mean absolute error (MAE) was 0.05 and 0.07, and the average ZeroR baseline was 0.09 and 0.10 for the three-category and the four-category model, respectively. Manual and DCNN-predicted motility was compared by Pearson's correlation coefficient and by difference plots. The strongest correlation between the mean manually assessed values and DCNN-predicted motility was observed for % progressively motile spermatozoa (Pearson's r = 0.88, p < 0.001) and % immotile spermatozoa (r = 0.89, p < 0.001). For rapid progressive motility, the correlation was moderate (Pearson's r = 0.673, p < 0.001). The median difference between manual and predicted progressive motility was 0 and 2 for immotile spermatozoa. The largest bias was observed at high and low percentages of progressive and immotile spermatozoa. The DCNN-predicted value was within the range of the interlaboratory variation of the results for most of the samples. In conclusion, DCNN models were able to predict the proportion of spermatozoa into the WHO motility categories with significantly lower error than the baseline. The best correlation between the manual and the DCNN-predicted motility values was found for the categories progressive and immotile. Of note, there was considerable variation between the mean motility values obtained for each category by the reference laboratories, especially for rapid progressive motility, which impacts the training of the DCNN models.

Scientific reports. 2023 Sep 07*** epublish ***

Trine B Haugen, Oliwia Witczak, Steven A Hicks, Lars Björndahl, Jorunn M Andersen, Michael A Riegler

Department of Life Sciences and Health, OsloMet - Oslo Metropolitan University, Oslo, Norway. ., Department of Life Sciences and Health, OsloMet - Oslo Metropolitan University, Oslo, Norway., Simula Metropolitan Center for Digital Engineering, Oslo, Norway., ANOVA, Karolinska University Hospital and Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.