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Hum Reprod. 1999 Aug;14(8):2007-14.

Morphometric assessment of mature and diminished-maturity human spermatozoa: sperm regions that reflect differences in maturity.

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The Sperm Physiology Laboratory, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06510, USA.


As part of our studies on sperm maturity and function, we examined the head, midpiece and tail of human spermatozoa using computerized morphometry in order to determine which regions reflect the differences between mature spermatozoa and spermatozoa of diminished cellular maturity. We studied 20 men, who were divided into two groups based on their lower (LCKM: 14.6 +/- 7.0%, n = 8) and higher sperm creatine kinase (CK-M) isoform ratios (HCKM: 48.0 +/- 4.3%, n = 12) in the initial semen. Using a sequential centrifugation method which relies on the lower density of immature spermatozoa with retained extra cytoplasm, we prepared three sperm fractions with progressively declining maturity, as confirmed with CK-M isoform ratio measurements. Following the sequential fractionation, we affixed the spermatozoa to glass slides, stained the midpiece and the sperm contour, and photographed 25 spermatozoa in each of the 60 fractions (1509 spermatozoa in all). The spermatozoa were then individually digitized on the Image-1 system, and the dimensions of the head, midpiece, and tail were determined. While the data showed significant differences in the midpiece and tail dimensions between the mature and diminished-maturity sperm fractions, the head dimensions were similar and did not reflect sperm maturity. We postulated that the relationship between the biochemical markers of sperm maturity and sperm morphology is based on common spermiogenic events. The data support this idea. In immature spermatozoa in which cytoplasmic extrusion, CK-M isoform expression, and tail sprouting are all diminished, the retained extra cytoplasm in the midpiece and shorter tail length contribute to the morphological variations that we identified by morphometry and considered in sperm morphology. These morphometric features, in association with fluorochrome-coupled biochemical probes, can facilitate the identification of mature spermatozoa in computer-assisted semen analysis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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