Use of mammalian eggs for assessment of human sperm function: Molecular and cellular analyses of fertilization by intracytoplasmic sperm injection

Yukihiro Terada, Sou Ichi Nakamura, Junko Morita, Masahito Tachibana, Yuki Morito, Kiyoshi Ito, Takashi Murakami, Nobuo Yaegashi, Kunihiro Okamura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Problems: Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) has been described as the 'cure' for male sterility because a single sperm can now be directly introduced into an egg with some chance of pregnancy. While ICSI has revolutionized the practice of assisted reproductive techniques (ART), there are few molecular and cellular studies about its safety and efficacy. Even by using ICSI, fertilization in humans succeeds only if the sperm effectively accomplishes a number of tasks including 'post-ICSI events' in fertilization. To assess the function of human sperm after ICSI, we used heterologous ICSI with human sperm into animal eggs. Egg activation, sperm decondensation and sperm centorosomal function were examined in sperm from fertile men and infertile patients. Methods: Sperm from fertile men and infertile patients were injected into hamster, rabbit and bovine eggs by Piezo micromanipulator, and studied in decondensation of sperm nuclei, egg activation and microtubule organization. Results: Decondensation human sperm head following ICSI into hamster eggs occurred initially form basal lesion, and apical portion of sperm nuclei which is surrounded by acrosome and perinuclear theca, still condensed in early pronuclear stage. Radial array of microtubules from sperm centrosome 'sperm aster' which is essential for pronuclear movement was observed in 30% rabbit eggs following ICSI with human sperm. By heterologous ICSI system with fertile human sperm and bovine eggs, 83.3% of eggs was activated and 60% eggs had sperm aster, indicating that bovine Piezo ICSI system is appropriate for assessing human sperm oocyte activation ability and human sperm centrosomal function. Oocyte activation and sperm centrosomal function were significantly low in sperm from men with globozoospermia and men with dysplasia of fibrous sheath. Conclusion: These assays indicate differences of the process of fertilization between in vitro fertilization and ICSI, and reflect the human sperm function especially for the 'post-ICSI events' in fertilization. More molecular and cellular analyses in fertilization by ICSI are needed for improvement of ART.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)290-293
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Reproductive Immunology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2004 Apr


  • Assisted reproductive techniques
  • Fertilization
  • Intracytosplasmic sperm injection
  • Male sterility
  • Sperm centrosome


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