Summary. Spermatozoa from 10 fertile donors and from 10 patients with infertile marriages were washed and centrifuged (time zero, TO), and incubated in vitro in capacitation media for 6 h (T6), or 24 h (T24). At each time individual spermatozoa were classified as being morphologically normal or abnormal, and their movement characteristics were determined using high-speed videomicrography. Zona-free hamster oocytes were added to the T24 sperm suspensions. At all times, morphologically normal spermatozoa from donors and patients swam faster and had greater rolling frequency, flagellar beat frequency and amplitude than did abnormally shaped cells. Morphologically normal spermatozoa from donors exhibited a significant change in their movement pattern at T6. This change, which resembles hyperactivation in other species, was characterized by higher values of amplitude of lateral head displacement, and lower values of linearity, beat frequency and flagellar curvature ratio. In contrast, normal spermatozoa from patients showed only a decrease in straight line velocity at T6, with no other significant changes in movement characteristics. No changes in sperm movement could be demonstrated for the abnormal cells in either group of subjects. In sperm suspensions from donors and patients examined at T24, sperm vigour declined regardless of the morphological type. Spermatozoa from all 10 donors were able to penetrate the zona-free hamster oocytes, but spermatozoa from 5 of the 10 patients failed to penetrate oocytes. Correlations between hamster oocyte penetration and indicators of sperm vigour were demonstrated only for spermatozoa of patients.
Keywords: capacitation; sperm motility; hyperactivation; male fertility; sperm penetration assay
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