'Round head' sperm defect. Ultrastructural and meiotic segregation study

J Submicrosc Cytol Pathol. 2005 Nov;37(3-4):297-303.


The sperm 'round head' defect, also known as globozoospermia, is an uncommon alteration of sperm morphology generally characterised by 100% round headed sperm totally lacking an acrosome. This alteration is a genetic sperm defect as demonstrated by analysing the incidence of these alterations in a population of infertile men showing a history of consanguinity and cases belonging to the same family. Ultrastructural characteristics and meiotic segregation in spermatozoa from two patients affected by 'round head' sperm defect were investigated. The sperm quality was examined by light and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) analysis was performed in order to investigate the meiotic behavior of chromosomes namely gonosomes and chromosome 18. TEM analysis, mathematically elaborated, clearly diagnosed the 'round head' genetic sperm defect and highlighted at the same time the presence of other phenotypic alterations belonging to pathologies such as immaturity, apoptosis and necrosis. It is possible to hypothesize that round headed sperm could be a 'weak phenotype' allowing the sperm pathologies to overlap with a sperm defect of genetic origin, further compromising fertilizing potential. FISH analysis revealed a positive correlation between globozoospermia and higher disomies of sex chromosomes and diploidies suggesting a higher risk of creating an aneuploid embryo after intracytoplasmic sperm injection.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aneuploidy
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 18 / genetics*
  • Chromosomes, Human, Y / genetics*
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Infertility, Male / etiology*
  • Male
  • Meiosis / genetics*
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Sex Chromosome Aberrations*
  • Sperm Head / ultrastructure
  • Spermatozoa / ultrastructure*