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Volume 12, Issue 6 (November 2010) 12, 871–879; 10.1038/aja.2010.90

Dimensions of human ejaculated spermatozoa in Papanicolaou-stained seminal and swim-up smears obtained from the Integrated Semen Analysis System (ISAS®)

Giuseppe Bellastella1,2, Trevor G. Cooper1, Marina Battaglia1,2, Anda Ströse1,3, Inma Torres4, Barbara Hellenkemper1, Carles Soler5 and Antonio A. Sinisi2

1 Centre of Reproductive Medicine and Andrology of the University, Münster D-48149, Germany
2 Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine and Surgery, Endocrinology and Medical Andrology Section, Seconda Universita`di Napoli, Napoli 80131, Italy
3 Department of Life Science and Engineering, Saxiom Hogescholen, Enschede 7500, Netherlands
4 Tahe Fertilidad Murcia, Avd. Europa 11-13, Murcia CP 30007, Spain
5 Department of Functional Biology and Physical Anthropology, University of València, València 46112, Spain

Correspondence: Dr Trevor G. Cooper,ctrevorg@live.hk

Received 21 March 2010; Revised 13 May 2010; Accepted 6 July 2010; Published online 20 September 2010.


Objective measurements are required for computer-aided sperm morphometric analysis (CASMA) machines to distinguish normal from abnormal sperm heads. The morphometric characteristics of spermatozoa in 72 samples of semen and of spermatozoa from 72 other semen samples after swim-up were quantified by the semi-automated Integrated Sperm Analysis System (ISAS) computer-aided system, which measured the sperm head parameters length (L), width (W), area (A), perimeter (P), acrosomal area (Ac), and the derived values L/W and P/A. For each man a homogeneous population of distributions characterized seminal spermatozoa (7 942 cells: median values L 4.4 μm, W 2.8 μm, A 9.8 μm2, P 12.5 μm, Ac 47.5%, L/W 1.57, P/A 1.27), and there was no significant difference in within- and among-individual variation. Different men could have spermatozoa of significantly different dimensions. Head dimensions for swim-up spermatozoa from different men (4 812 cells) were similar to those in semen, differing only by 2%–5%. The values of L, W and L/W fell within the limits given by the World Health Organization (WHO). Although these samples were not biologically matched, linear mixed-effects statistical analyses permitted valid comparison of the groups. A subpopulation of 404 spermatozoa considered to fit the stringent criteria of WHO 'normal' seminal spermatozoa from both semen and swim-up were characterized by median values (and 95% confidence intervals) of L, 4.3 μm (3.8–4.9), W, 2.9 μm (2.6–3.3), A, 10.2 μm2 (8.5–12.2), P, 12.4 μm (11.3–13.9), Ac, 49% (36–60), L/W, 1.49 (1.32–1.67) and P/A, 1.22 (1.11–1.35). These median values fall within the 95th centile confidence limits given by WHO, but the confidence intervals for L and W were larger. Although these differences in head dimensions among men and after swim-up could be detected by CASMA, the small differences make it unlikely that technicians would be able to distinguish them. The values could be used as default sperm head values for the CASMA machine used here.

Keywords: male infertility; semen; sperm head

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