The human spermatozoon

  • Baccio Baccetti
Part of the Electron Microscopy in Biology and Medicine book series (EMBM, volume 2)


In recent years numerous studies have carried our knowledge of the human spermatozoon to a high level, and constitute a basis for the understanding of many cases of partial or complete infertility, as well as for a useful approach to the general problem of fertility control. Many of the investigations have involved electron microscopy, others have used chemical analysis of isolated cellular components. Useful data, first obtained on sperm in animals, recently has been confirmed in the human. This perhaps is an appropriate moment to gather these results together in a single review.


Human Sperm Sperm Head Central Tubule Mammalian Sperm Fibrous Sheath 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Edelman GM, Millette CF: Chemical dissection and surface mapping of spermatozoa. In: The functional Anatomy of the spermatozoon. Afzelius BA (ed), Oxford, Pergamon Press, 1975, pp 349–357.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Mercado E, Hicks JJ, Drago C, Rosado A: A study of the interaction of human spermatozoa membrane with ATP and cyclic-AMP. Biochem Biophys Res Communic 56: 185–192, 1974.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Baccetti B: Lo spermatozoo umano. In: I° Congresso Nazionale Società Italia Andrologia, Relazioni. Pacini (ed) 1978, pp 123–167.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Koehler JK: The mammalian sperm surface: studies with specific labeling techniques. Int Rev Cytol 54: 73–108, 1978.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Gordon M, Dandekar PV: Fine structural localization of phosphatase activity on the plasma membrane of the rabbit sperm head. J Reprod Fert 49: 155–156, 1977.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Pedersen H: The postacrosomal region of the spermatozoa of man and Macaca arctoides. J Ultrastr Res 40: 366–377, 1972a.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Fawcett DW: The mammalian spermatozoon. Developt Biol 44: 394–436, 1975.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Koehler JK: Human sperm head ultrastructure: a freeze-etching study. J Ultrastr Res 39: 520–539, 1972.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Carothers AD, Beatty AA: The recognition and incidence of haploid and polyploid spermatozoa in man, rabbit and mouse. J Reprod Fert 44: 487–500, 1975.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Baccetti B, Afzelius BA: The biology of the sperm cell. Monographs in developmental biology, 10. Basel, S Karger, 1976.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Sarkar S, Jones OW, Shioura N: Constancy in human sperm DNA. Proc Nat Acad Sci USA 71: 3512–3516, 1974.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Summer AT, Robinson JA, Evans HJ: Distinguishing between X, Y and YY bearing human spermatozoa by fluorescence and DNA content. Nature New Biol 229: 231–233, 1971.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Kolk AHJ, Samuel T: Isolation, chemical and immunological characterization of two strongly basic nuclear proteins from human spermatozoa. Biochim Biophys Acta 393: 307–319, 1975.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Bedford J, Calvin HI: The occurrence and possible functional significance of -S-S crosslinks in sperm heads, with particular reference to Eutherian mammals. J Exp Zool 188: 137–156, 1974.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Bedford JM, Calvin HI, Cooler GW: The maturation of spermatozoa in the human epididymis. J Reprod Fert Suppl 18: 199–213, 1973.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Bearden J, Bendet IJ: Birefringence of spermatozoa. I. Birefringence melting of Squid, Bull, and Human sperm nucleoprotein. J Cell Biol 55: 489–500, 1972.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Baccetti B, Fraioli F, Paolucci D, Selmi G, Spera G, Renieri T: Double spermatozoa in a hyperprolactinemic man. J Submicr Cytol 10: 240– 260, 1978.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Roomans GM, Afzelius BA: Acrosome vesiculation in the human sperm. J Submicrosc Cytol 7: 61–69, 1975.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Roomans GM: Calcium binding to the acrosomal membrane of human spermatozoa. Exp Cell Res 96: 23–30, 1975.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Baccetti B: The evolution of the acrosomal complex. In: The Spermatozoon. Fawcett DW, Bedford JM (eds) Baltimore-Munich, Urban & Schwarzenberg, 1979, pp 305–329.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    McRorie RA, Williams WL: Biochemistry of mammalian fertilization. Ann Rev Biochem 43: 777–803, 1974.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Bhattacharyya AK, Zaneveld LJD: Kinetic studies on the interaction and specificity of synthetic proteinase inhibitors towards human acro-sin. Andrologia 8, suppl 1: 119, 1976.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Goodpasture JC, Polakoski KL, Zaneveld LJD: Acrosin, proacrosin and acrosin inhibitor of human spermatozoa: extraction, quantitation, and stability. J Andrology 1: 16–27, 1980.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Koren E, Milkovic S: Collagenase like peptidase in human, rat and bull spermatozoa. J Reprod Fert 32: 319–356, 1973.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Bhattacharyya AK, Zaneveld LJD: Release of acrosin inhibitor from human spermatozoa. Fertil Steril 30: 70–78, 1978.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Reddy JM, Joyce C, Zaneveld LJD: Role of hyaluronidase in fertilization: the antifertility activity of myocrisin a nontoxic hyaluronidase inhibitor. J Andrology 1: 28–32, 1980.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Clarke GN, Yanagimachi R: Actin in mammalian sperm heads. J exp Zool 205: 125–132, 1978.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Campanella C, Gabbiani G, Baccetti B, Burrini AG, Pallini Y: Actin and myosin in the vertebrate acrosomal region. J Submicr Cytol 11: 53–71, 1979.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Fawcett DW: A comparative view of sperm ultrastructure. Biol Reprod 2: 90–127, 1970.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Pedersen H: Observations on the axial filament complex of the human spermatozoon. J Ultrastr Res 33: 451– 462, 1970.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Burrini AG, Baccetti B, Campanella C, Runger-Brändle E, Gabbiani G: Pericentriolar actin in spermatozoa. J Submicr Cytol 12: 161–164, 1980.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Novikoff PM, Cohen J, Novikoff AB, Davis C: Cytochemical visualization of the midpiece of ejaculated human spermatozoa. J Microsc Paris 11: 169–174, 1971.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Pallini V, Baccetti B, Burrini AG: A peculiar cysteine-rich polypeptide related to some unusual properties of mammalian sperm mitochondria. In: The Spermatozoon. Fawcett DW, Bedford JM (eds) Baltimore-Munich, Urban & Schwarzenberg, 1979, pp 141–152.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Mann T: Sperm metabolism. In: Fertilization. Metz C, Monroy A (eds), New York, Academic Press, 1967, pp 99–116.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Olson GE, Hamilton DW, Fawcett DW: Isolation and characterization of the fibrous sheath of rat epididymal spermatozoa. Biol of Reprod 14: 517–530, 1976.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Warner FD, Satir P: The structural basis of ciliary bend formation. Radial spoke positional changes accompanying microtubule sliding. J Cell Biol 63: 35–63, 1974.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Olson GE, Linck RW: Observations of the structural components of flagellar axonemes and central pair microtubules from rat sperm. J Ultrastr Res 61: 21–43, 1977.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Pedersen H: Further observations on the fine structure of the human spermatozoon. Z Zellforsch Mikrosk Anat 123: 305–315, 1972.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Baccetti B, Pallini V, Burrini AG: The accessory fibers of the sperm tail. III. High sulfur and low sulfur components in Mammals and Cephalo-pods. J Ultrastr Res 57: 289–308, 1976.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Fawcett DW, Phillips DM: Recent observations on the ultrastructure and development of the mammalian spermatozoon. In: Comparative Spermatology. Baccetti B (ed) New York, Academic Press 1970, pp 13–28.Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Mohri H: Amino acid composition of ‘tubulin’ constituting micro-tubules of sperm flagella. Nature London 217: 1053–1054, 1968.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Gibbons IR, Rowe AJ: Dynein: a protein with adenosine triphosphatase activity from cilia. Science NY 149: 424–425, 1965.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Bell CW, Fronk E, Gibbons IR: Polypeptide subunits of dynein 1 from sea urchin sperm flagella. J Supramol Struct 11: 311–317, 1979.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Gibbons IR, Fronk E: A latent adenosine triphosphatase form of dynein 1 from sea urchin sperm flagella. J Biol Chem 254: 187–196, 1979.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Abla A, Mroueh A, Durr IF: The hydrolysis of ATP by the spermatozoa of man. Int J Biochem 5: 787–790, 1974.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Baccetti B, Burrini AG, Pallini V, Renieri T: Human Dynein and sperm pathology. J Cell Biol 88: 102–107, 1981.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Piperno G, Huang B, Luck DJL: Two dimensional analysis of flagellar proteins from wild-type and paralyzed mutants of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. Proc nat Acad Sci 74: 1600–1604, 1977.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Witman GB, Plummer I, Sander G: Chlamydomonas flagellar mutants lacking radial spokes and central tubules. J Cell Biol 76: 729–747, 1978.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Stephens RE: Enzymatic and structural proteins of the axoneme. In: Cilia and Flagella. New York and London, Academic Press 1974, pp 39–76.Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Calvin HI, Yu CC, Bedford JM: Effects of epididymal maturation, zinc (II) and copper (II) on the reactive sulfhydryl content of structural elements in rat spermatozoa. Exp Cell Res 81: 333–341, 1973.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Garbers DL, Hansbrough JR, Radany EW, Hyne RV, Kopf GS: Purification and characterization of calmodulin from sea urchin spermatozoa. J Reprod Fert 59: 377–381, 1980.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Jones HP, Bradford MM, McRorie RA, Cormier MJ: High levels of a calcium-dependent modulator protein in spermatozoa and its similarity to brain modulator protein. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 82: 1264–1272, 1978.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Phillips DM: Comparative analysis of mammalian sperm motility. J Cell Biol 53: 561–573, 1972b.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Appel RA, Evans PR: The effect of temperature on sperm motility and viability. Fertil Steril 28: 1329–1332, 1977.Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    Gibbons IR: Mechanisms of flagellar motility. In: The functional Anatomy of the spermatozoon. Afzelius BA (ed) Oxford, Pergamon Press 1975, pp 127–140.Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    Renieri T: Submicroscopical observations on abnormal human spermatozoa. J Submicr Cytol 6: 421–432, 1974.Google Scholar
  57. 57.
    Holstein AF: Morphologische Studien an abnormen Spermatiden und Spermatozoen des Menschen. Virschows Arch Path Anat Histol 367: 93–112, 1975.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. 58.
    Schirren CG, Holstein AF, Schirren C: Ueber die Morphogenese rundköpfiger Spermatozoen des Menschen. Andrologie 3: 117–125, 1971.Google Scholar
  59. 59.
    Baccetti B, Renieri T, Rosati F, Selmi MG, Casanova S: Further observations on the morphogenesis of the round headed human spermatozoa. Andrologia 9: 255–264, 1977.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. 60.
    Nistal M, Herruzo A, Sanchez-Corral F: Teratozoospermia absoluta de presentación familiar. Espermatozoides microcéfalos irregulares sin acrosoma. Andrologia 10: 234–240, 1978.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. 61.
    Ross A, Christie S, Edmond P: Ultrastructural tail defects in the spermatozoa from two men attending a subfertility clinic. J Reprod Fert 32: 243–251, 1973.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. 62.
    Lacy D, Pettitt AJ, Martin BS: Application of scanning electron microscopy to semen analysis of subfertile man utilizing data obtained by transmission electron microscopy as an aid to interpretation. Micron 5: 135–173, 1974.Google Scholar
  63. 63.
    Ross A, Christie S, Kerr MG: An electron microscope study of a tail abnormality in spermatozoa from a subfertile man. J Reprod Fert 24: 99–103, 1971.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. 64.
    Luders G: Ein Defekt der Kopf-Schwanz-Verknüpfung bei menschlichen Spermatozoen. Andrologia 8: 365–368, 1976.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. 65.
    Baccetti B, Burrini AG, Pallini V: Spermatozoa and cilia lacking axoneme in an infertile man. Andrologia 12: 525–532, 1980b.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. 66.
    Baccetti B, Burrini AG, Maver A, Pallini V, Renieri T: ‘9 + 0’ immotile spermatozoa in an infertile man. Andrologia 11: 437–443, 1979b.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. 67.
    Afzelius BA, Eliasson R, Johnsen O, Lindholmer C: Lack of dynein arms in immotile human spermatozoa. J Cell Biol 66: 225–232, 1975.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. 68.
    Pedersen H, Rebbe H: Absence of arms on the axoneme of immobile human spermatozoa. Biol of Reprod 12: 541–544, 1975.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. 69.
    Afzelius BA, Eliasson R: Flagellar mutants in man: on the hetero¬geneity of the immotile cilia syndrome. J Ultrastr Res 69: 43–52, 1979.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. 70.
    Aughey E, Orr PS: An unusual abnormality of human spermatozoa. J Reprod Fertil 53: 341–342, 1978.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. 71.
    Baccetti B, Burrini AG, Pallini V, Renieri T, Rosati F, Menchini Fabris GF: The short tailed human spermatozoa. Ultrastructural alterations and dynein absence. J Submicr Cytol 7: 349–359, 1975.Google Scholar
  72. 72.
    Nistal M, Paniagua R, Herruzo A: Multi-tailed spermatozoa in a case with asthenospermia and teratospermia. Virchows Arch B Cell Path 26: 111–118, 1977.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Boston, The Hague, Dordrecht, Lancaster 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Baccio Baccetti
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of ZoologyUniversity of SienaSienaItaly

Personalised recommendations