Microfluidics and Nanofluidics

, 22:100 | Cite as

Quantitative analysis of sperm rheotaxis using a microfluidic device

  • Kari Rappa
  • Jacob Samargia
  • Mazhar Sher
  • Javier S. Pino
  • Harold F. Rodriguez
  • Waseem AsgharEmail author
Research Paper


Quite puzzling issue in biology is how sperm cells are selected naturally where human sperm has to maintain a correct swimming behavior during the various stages of reproduction process. In nature, sperm has to compete a long journey from cervix to oocyte to stand a chance for fertilization. Although various guidance mechanisms such as chemical and thermal gradients are proposed previously, these mechanisms may only be relevant as sperm reaches very close to the oocyte. Rheotaxis, a phenomenon where sperm cells swim against the flow direction, is possibly the long-range sperm guidance mechanism for successful fertilization. A little is known quantitatively about how flow shear effects may help guide human sperm cells over long distances. Here, we have developed microfluidic devices to quantitatively investigate sperm rheotaxis at various physiological flow conditions. We observed that at certain flow rates sperm actively orient and swim against the flow. Sperm that exhibit positive rheotaxis show better motility and velocity than the control (no-flow condition), however, rheotaxis does not select sperm based on hyaluronic acid (HA) binding potential and morphology. Morphology and HA binding potential may not be a significant factor in sperm transport in natural sperm selection.


Microfluidics Sperm selection Advanced reproductive technology (ART) In vitro fertilization 



We acknowledge research support from Fertility and Genetics Plantation, FL, Cryos International USA, Institute for Sensing and Embedded Networking Systems Engineering (I-SENSE) Research Initiative Award, FAU Faculty Mentoring Award, Humanity in Science Award, and a start-up research support from College of Engineering and Computer Science, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no competing interests.

Supplementary material

10404_2018_2117_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (104 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 103 KB)

Supplementary material 2 (MP4 8753 KB)

Supplementary material 3 (MP4 7108 KB)

Supplementary material 4 (MP4 9652 KB)

Supplementary material 5 (MP4 9794 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kari Rappa
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jacob Samargia
    • 1
  • Mazhar Sher
    • 1
    • 2
  • Javier S. Pino
    • 1
    • 2
  • Harold F. Rodriguez
    • 3
  • Waseem Asghar
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Asghar-Lab, Micro and Nanotechnology in MedicineCollege of Engineering and Computer ScienceBoca RatonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Computer and Electrical Engineering and Computer ScienceFlorida Atlantic UniversityBoca RatonUSA
  3. 3.IVF Consultants, Inc.MiramarUSA
  4. 4.Department of Biological SciencesFlorida Atlantic UniversityBoca RatonUSA

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