The relationship between sperm ultrastructural features and fertilizing capacity in vitro

R. Mashiach, B. Fisch, F. Eltes, Y. Tadir, J. Ovadia, B. Bartoov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Objective: To evaluate the relationship between ultramorphological features of the human sperm and its fertilizing capacity in vitro. Design: The study was performed retrospectively. Ultrastructural features were assessed using scanning and transmission electron microscopes in sperm samples of individuals who underwent an in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment cycle no more than 6 months before the study. Setting: Institutional clinical care. Patients: Fifty-six infertile couples in whom mechanical infertility was diagnosed in the female partner. Patients were categorized as fertilizing when fertilization of at least 30% of the oocytes occurred (n = 27) and nonfertilizing when none of the oocytes fertilized in at least two consecutive IVF treatment cycles (n = 29). Results: The two groups differed significantly only in ultramorphological parameters of the sperm head and acrosome (head, F(8,36) = 2.8, P < 0.02; acrosome, F(4,40) = 2.8, P < 0.04), and especially in the following malformation patterns: hyperelongated head, acrosome deficiency, and acrosome damage. The suggested score based on these findings was able to predict 90% and 76% of the cases with and without fertilizing potential, respectively. Conclusions: The ultrastructural morphology of the sperm head components is a key parameter for assessing the sperm fertilizing capacity in vitro.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1052-1057
Number of pages6
JournalFertility and Sterility
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • Sperm ultramorphology
  • fertilizing capacity
  • in vitro fertilization


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