Selectivity of hyaluronic acid binding for spermatozoa with normal Tygerberg strict morphology

Reprod Biomed Online. 2009 Feb;18(2):177-83. doi: 10.1016/s1472-6483(10)60253-2.


During spermiogenesis, a plasma membrane remodelling step facilitates formation of sperm zona pellucida and hyaluronic acid (HA) binding sites. Enrichment of Tygerberg normal spermatozoa in HA-bound versus semen sperm fractions was postulated. Semen was placed on the uncoated A side and HA-coated B side of a semen chamber. After 15 min, the HA binding score (proportion of HA-bound motile spermatozoa) was assessed on the B side, and unbound spermatozoa were removed by gentle rinsing. Following Diff-Quick staining, sperm morphology of A and B sides was evaluated by three blinded investigators at Yale and Tygerberg. The proportion of Tygerberg normal spermatozoa was higher in HA-bound versus semen spermatozoa (n = 63 subjects) with a 3.04-fold improvement (95% confidence limits: 1.9-4.7) in 37 teratozoospermic men, comparable with a 4.2-fold enrichment in zona pellucida-bound spermatozoa reported earlier by the Tygerberg group. The morphology scores of three investigators were different but related, indicating that the variations reflect individual-to-individual differences in the perception of shape normality. The selection power of HA and zona pellucida for normal spermatozoa are similar. The sperm biomarkers of creatine phosphokinase (reflecting retained cytoplasm in arrested maturity spermatozoa) and chaperone protein HspA2 (heat shock protein) were proportional with sperm HA binding. As HA binding reflects sperm maturity and function, the combination of Tygerberg morphology and HA binding is likely to improve male infertility management.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Cytological Techniques
  • Humans
  • Hyaluronic Acid / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Quality Control
  • Research Design*
  • Sperm Maturation / physiology
  • Sperm Motility
  • Spermatozoa / cytology*
  • Spermatozoa / metabolism*
  • Spermatozoa / physiology
  • Substrate Specificity


  • Biomarkers
  • Hyaluronic Acid