Background: Spermatozoa have to traverse the cumulus oophorus before fertilization in vivo. Evidence suggests that the cumulus oophorus plays an important role in the fertilization process. We describe the establishment of a capillary-cumulus oophorus model with which to study the action of cumulus mass on the function of human spermatozoa.
Methods: Human cumulus oophorus was aspirated into a glass capillary. Spermatozoa were allowed to pass through the cumulus mass in the capillary from one end of the capillary. The spermatozoa that had traversed the mass were collected at the other end of the capillary and underwent sperm function analyses.
Results: Compared with those spermatozoa cultured in medium alone, spermatozoa exposed to the cumulus mass were more likely to have normal morphology, be capacitated and acrosome reacted, with a distinct motility pattern and better zona-binding capacity.
Conclusion: A novel in vitro model for spermatozoa penetration through the cumulus oophorus was established. The model can be applied to investigate the effect of the cumulus oophorus on sperm functions.