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Development of an assay to assess the functional integrity of the human sperm membrane and its relationship to other semen characteristics


Journal of Reproduction & Fertility 70(1): 219-228
Development of an assay to assess the functional integrity of the human sperm membrane and its relationship to other semen characteristics
A relatively simple test to evaluate the functional integrity of the membranes of human spermatozoa is described. As in some other species, human spermatozoa swell under hypo-osmotic conditions due to the influx of water and the expansion of the membranes. A mixture of equal parts of fructose and sodium citrate (150 mOsmol) with calculated ionic strength of 0.15 resulted in a maximal number of clearly identifiable swollen spermatozoa. Only small variations were seen when different aliquants of the same semen samples were separately evaluated. A high correlation (r = 0.94) was obtained between expected and observed values of swollen spermatozoa when known amounts of heat-treated spermatozoa, unable to undergo swelling, were added to untreated spermatozoa. A good correlation (r = 0.90) was also observed between the % spermatozoa in a semen sample that were capable of undergoing swelling and the % of denuded hamster oocytes that were penetrated by capacitated spermatozoa from the same semen sample. By contrast, the correlations between % sperm swelling in ejaculates and % normal sperm forms, % motile spermatozoa and % spermatozoa that do not stain with eosin-y (supravital stain) in the same ejaculates were 0.30, 0.61 and 0.52, respectively. Therefore, the hypo-osmotic swelling technique to evaluate the functional integrity of the sperm membrane appears to give high repeatability and accuracy and is closely correlated to the in-vitro fertilizing ability of spermatozoa. It may be a useful addition to the standard semen analysis [for male infertility].

Accession: 005132357

PMID: 6694140

DOI: 10.1530/jrf.0.0700219

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