Fertility Potential Evaluation with the Zona-Free Hamster Egg Bioassay

  • Don P. Wolf
  • Joseph E. Sokoloski


The evaluation of male fertility traditionally has centered on semen analysis describing semen volume, sperm density, morphology, motility and progression. Unfortunately, results from such analyses correlate poorly with fertility except in the extreme cases of azoospermia or asthenospermia. This poor correlation has forced attention to direct measurements of sperm function. Presently several bioassays are available for this purpose including in vivo sperm penetration of cervical mucus (the post coital or Sims-Huhner test), the in vitro capillary tube penetration test (with bovine or mid-cycle human cervical mucus) and sperm-egg interaction systems. At least two in vitro sperm-egg interaction assays have been described in addition to the fertilization of human eggs. In one, sperm are incubated with non-living human oocytes and the ability of sperm to penetrate the zona pellucida is measured (Overstreet and Hembree, 1976). The other, the zona-free hamster egg bioassay, utilizes the living naked egg of the hamster and sperm-egg fusion is the measured parameter (Yanagamachi et al., 1976).


Human Sperm Infertile Couple Sperm Capacitation Sperm Penetration Penetration Assay 
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. Aitken, R. J., Best, F. S. M., Richardson, D. W., Djahanbakhch, O., and Lees, M. M., 1982a, The correlates of fertilizing capacity in normal fertile men, Fertil. Steril., 38:68.Google Scholar
  2. Aitken, R. J., Best, F.S.M., Richardson, D. W., Djahanbakhch, O., Mortimer, D., Templeton, A. A. and Lees, M. M., 1982b, An analysis of sperm function in cases of unexplained infertility: conventional criteria, movement characteristics and fertilizing capacity, Fertil. Steril., 38:212.Google Scholar
  3. Austin, C. R., 1976, Developmental anomalies arising from errors of fertilization and cleavage, Curr. Topics Path., 62:3.Google Scholar
  4. Barros, C. and Yanagimachi, R., 1972, Polyspermy-preventing mechanisms in the golden hamster egg, J. Exp. Zool., 180:251.Google Scholar
  5. Barros, C., Gonzales, J., Herrera, E. and Bustos-Oregon, E., 1978, Spermatozoa evaluated by actual penetration of foreign eggs, Contraception, 17:87.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Biggers, J. D., Whitten, W. K., and Whittingham, D. G., 1971, “Methods in Mammalian Embryology,” Freeman, San Francisco.Google Scholar
  7. Berger, T., Marrs, R. P., Saito, H., and Kletzky, O. A., 1983, Factors affecting human sperm penetration of zona-free hamster ova, Am. J. Obstet. Gynecol., 145:397.Google Scholar
  8. Binor, Z., Sokoloski, J. E., and Wolf, D. P., 1980, Penetration of zona-free hamster eggs by human sperm, Fertil. Steril., 33:321.Google Scholar
  9. Binor, Z., Sokoloski, J. E., and Wolf, D. P., 1982a, Sperm interaction with the zona-free hamster egg, J. Exp. Zool., 222:187.Google Scholar
  10. Binor, Z., Ras, R., Ramaa, R., van der Ven, H., and Scommegna, A. 1982b, The effect of albumin gradients and human serum on the longevity and fertilizing capacity of human spermatozoa in the hamster ova penetration assay, Fertil. Steril., 38:222.Google Scholar
  11. Binor, Z., Ramaa, R., and Scommegna, A., 1982c, Further studies on dysfunctional human spermatozoa using the zona-free hamster oocyte penetration assay, Fertil. Steril., 37:300Google Scholar
  12. Brackett, B. G., Cofone, M. A., Boice, M. L., and Bousquet, D., 1982, Use of zona-free hamster ova to assess sperm fertilizing ability of bull and stallion, Gamete Res., 5:217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cohen, J., Feiten, P., and Zeilmaker, G. H., 1981, In vitro fertilizing capacity of fresh and cryopreserved human permatozoa: a comparative study of freezing and thawing procedures, Fertil. Steril., 36:356.Google Scholar
  14. Cohen, J. Weber, R. F. A., van der Vijver, J. C. M., and Zeilmaker, G. H., 1982, In vitro fertilizing capacity of human spermatozoa with the use of zona-free hamster ova: interassay variation and prognostic value, Fertil. Steril., 37:565.Google Scholar
  15. Dandekar, P. V., and Wolf, D. P., 1982, Evidence for a sperm derived factor that enhances human sperm penetration of zona free hamster eggs, J. Cell Biol., 95:162a.Google Scholar
  16. Dandekar, P. V., and Wolf, D. P., 1983, Characteristics of a human sperm-associated factor that enhances sperm fusion with zona-free hamster eggs, presented at J. Cell Biol., In press.Google Scholar
  17. Dor, J., Rudak, E. and Aitken, R. J., 1981, Antisperm antibodies: their effect on the processes of fertilization studied in vitro, Fertil. Steril., 35:535.Google Scholar
  18. Fleming, A. D., Yanagimachi, R., and Yanagimachi, H., 1979, Fertilizability of cryopreserved zona-free hamster ova, Gamete Res., 2:357.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Haas, G.G., Jr., Sokoloski, J.E., and Wolf, D.P., 1980, The interfering effect of human IgG antisperm antibodies on human sperm penetration of zona-free hamster eggs, Am. J. Reprod. Immunol., 1:40.Google Scholar
  20. Hall, J. L., 1981, Relationship between semen quality and human sperm penetration of zona-free hamster ova, Fertil. Steril., 35:457.Google Scholar
  21. Hanada, A. and Chang, M. C., 1972, Penetration of zona-free eggs by spermatozoa of different species, Biol. Reprod., 6:300.Google Scholar
  22. Hanada, A. and Chang, M. C., 1976, Penetration of hamster and rabbit zona-free eggs by rat and mouse spermatozoa with special reference to sperm capacitation, J. Reprod. Fertil., 46:239.Google Scholar
  23. Hanada, A. and Chang, M. C., 1978, Penetration of the zona-free or intact eggs by foreign spermatozoa and the fertilization of deer mouse eggs in vitro, J. Exp. Zool., 203:277.Google Scholar
  24. Hinrichsen, M. J. and Blaquier, J. A., 1980, Evidence supporting the existence of sperm maturation in the human epididymis, J. Reprod. Fertil., 60:291.Google Scholar
  25. Imai, H., Niwa, K. and Iritani, A., 1977, Penetration in vitro of zona-free hamster eggs by ejaculated boar spermatozoa, J. Reprod. Fertil., 54:379.Google Scholar
  26. Karp, L. E., Williamson, R. A., Moore, D. E., Shy, K. K., Plymate, S. R. and Smith, W. D., 1981, Sperm penetration assay: useful test in evaluation of male fertility, Obstet. Gynecol., 57:620.Google Scholar
  27. Kim, C. I., Niwa, K., Imai, H. and Iritani, A., 1980, Penetration of zona-free hamster eggs in vitro by goat spermatozoa preincubated in the reproductive tract isolated from a maturing gilt, J. Exp. Zool., 213:181.Google Scholar
  28. Martin, R.H. and Taylor, P.J., 1983, Effect of sperm concentration in the zona-free hamster ova penetration assay, Fertil. Steril., 39:379.Google Scholar
  29. Menge, A. C. and Black, C. S., 1979, Effects of antisera on human sperm penetration of zona-free hamster ova, Fertil. Steril., 32:214.Google Scholar
  30. Overstreet, J. W. and Hembree, W. C., 1976, Penetration of the zona pellucida of non-living human oocytes by human spermatozoa in vitro, Fertil. Steril., 27:815.Google Scholar
  31. Overstreet, J. W., Yanagimachi, R., Katz, D. F., Hayashi, K. and Hanson, E. W., 1980, Penetration of human spermatozoa into the human zona pellucida and the zona-free hamster egg: A study of fertile donors and infertile patients, Fertil. Steril., 33:534.Google Scholar
  32. Pavlok, A., 1979, Interspecies interaction of zona-free ova with spermatozoa in mouse, rat, and hamster, Animal Reprod. Sci., 2:395Google Scholar
  33. Perreault, S. D. and Rogers, B. J., 1982, Capacitation pattern of human spermatozoa, Fertil. Steril., 38:258.Google Scholar
  34. Quinn, P., 1979, Failure of human spermatozoa to penetrate zona-free mouse and rat ova in vitro, J. Exp. Zool., 210:497.Google Scholar
  35. Quinn, P., Barros, C., and Whittingham, D. G., 1982, Preservation of hamster oocytes to assay the fertilizing capacity of human spermatozoa, J. Reprod. Fertil., 66:161.Google Scholar
  36. Rogers, B. J., Van Campen, H., Ueno, M., Lambert, H., Bronson, R. and Hale, R., 1979, Analysis of human spermatozoa fertilizing ability using zona-free ova, Fertil. Steril., 32:664.Google Scholar
  37. Rogers, B. J., Perreault, S. D., Bientwood, B. J., McCarville, C., Hale, R. W., and Soderdahl, D. W., 1983a, Variability in the human-hamster in vitro assay for fertility evaluation, Fertil. Steril., 39:204.Google Scholar
  38. Rogers, B. J., Takemoto, F., Wiltbank, M., and Hale, R. W., 1983b, Comparison of the penetration ability of human spermatozoa into bovine cervical mucus and zona-free hamster eggs, Fertil. Steril., 39:437.Google Scholar
  39. Rudak, E., 1981, Interspecific fertilization, in:“Bioregulators of Reproduction,” G. Jagiello and H.J. Vogel, eds., London Academic Press.Google Scholar
  40. Rudak, E., Jacobs, P. A., and Yanagimachi, R., 1978, Direct analysis of the chromosome constitution of human spermatozoa, Nature (London), 274:911.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Shy, K.K. Soules, M.R., and Karp, L.E., 1982, The SPA — a new test of male fertility, Contemp. Ob/Gyn., 19:20.Google Scholar
  42. Snedecor, G. W., and Cochran, W. G., 1967, Statistical methods, Iowa State University Press, Ames.Google Scholar
  43. Sokoloski, J. E., and Wolf, D. P., 1983, Effect of Seminal Plasma on human sperm fertility assessment, Abst. presented at the Annual Meeting of the Amer. Soc. of Androl., Philadelphia, PA.Google Scholar
  44. Soules, M.R., Moore, D.E., Spadoni, L.R., and Stenchever, M.A., 1982, The relationship between the postcoital test and the sperm penetration assay, Fertil. Steril., 38:384.Google Scholar
  45. Stenchever, M. A., Spadoni, L. R., Smith, W. D., Karp, L. E., Shy, K. K., Moore, D. E., and Berger, R., 1982, Benefits of the sperm (hamster ova) penetration assay in the evaluation of the infertile couple, Am. J. Obstet. Gynecol., 143:91.Google Scholar
  46. Thadani, V. M., 1980, A study of hetero-specific sperm-egg interactions in the rat, mouse, and deer mouse using in vitro fertilization and sperm injection. J. Exp. Zool., 212:435.Google Scholar
  47. Tyler, J. P. P., Pryor, J. P., and Collins, W. P., 1981, Heterologous ovum penetration by human spermatozoa, J. Reprod. Fert., 63:499.Google Scholar
  48. Usui, N., and Yanagimachi, R., 1976, Behavior of hamster sperm nuclei incorporated into eggs at various stages of maturation, fertilization and early development, J. Ultrastruct. Res., 57:276.Google Scholar
  49. Wolf, D. P., and Sokoloski, J. E., 1982, Characterization of the sperm penetration bioassay, J. Androl. 3:445.Google Scholar
  50. Wolf, D. P., Sokoloski, J. E., and Quigley, M. M., 1983, Correlation of human in vitro fertilization with the hamster egg bioassay, Fertil. Steril., 40:53.Google Scholar
  51. Yanagimachi, R., 1972, Penetration of guinea pig spermatozoa into hamster eggs in vitro, J. Reprod. Fertil., 28:477.Google Scholar
  52. Yanagimachi, R., Yanagimachi, H and Rogers, B. J., 1976, The use of zona-free ova as a test system for the assessment of the fertilizing capacity of human spermatozoa, Biol. Reprod., 15:471.Google Scholar
  53. Zausner-Guelman, B., Blasco, L. and Wolf, D. P., 1981, Zona-free hamster eggs and human sperm penetration capacity: a comparative study of proven fertile donors and infertility patients, Fertil. Steril., 36:771.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Don P. Wolf
  • Joseph E. Sokoloski

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations