April 27, 2018

New Structure Discovered in Human Sperm Tails

New Structure Discovered in Human Sperm Tails

Sperm are essential for reproduction. Normal sperm parameters (count, motility and morphology) are important for fertilization to occur following intercourse. In order for sperm to be motile, a highly effective sperm tail is needed to propel the sperm though the cervix and uterus into the fallopian tube to find the ovulated egg. A new structure discovered in human sperm tails was recently announced. Investigators from Sweden and the U.S., published in the February, 2018 scientific journal, “Nature,” their discovery of a completely new, extremely small (nano)-structure inside the microtubules of sperm tails. Thanks to this nano-technology involving cryo-electron 3-D tomography which was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2017, a spiral shape was identified that ran the length of the microtubules inside sperm tails. This spiral is believed to act as a cork inside the microtubules, preventing them from growing and shrinking as they would normally do, and instead allows the sperm’s energy to focus on swimming quickly through the reproductive tract towards the egg.

Further work is needed to fully understand sperm motility and sperm function, but this innovative observation may one day be useful in the diagnosis and treatment of male infertility.

If you have more questions about male infertility, please contact us for an initial consultation.

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Joseph A. Hill, III, M.D. Board-Certified in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility