The three-dimensional image analysis of the chromocenter in motile and immotile human sperm

Syst Biol Reprod Med. 2013 Jun;59(3):146-52. doi: 10.3109/19396368.2013.772679. Epub 2013 Feb 28.


Chromosomes in human spermatozoa are arranged non-randomly with the centromeres of non-homologous chromosomes forming a chromocenter. We have compared motile and immotile sperm populations in normozoospermic patients to determine if there is any dissimilarity in the formation of the chromocenter and the nuclear position of chromosome 17. Based on the differences between motile and immotile populations, we propose for the 'optimal' nuclear organization to be defined as containing 1 to 3 chromocenter(s) with central radial and median longitudinal position for the centromere of chromosome 17. By this definition, 42% of motile spermatozoa had 'optima' nuclei, in comparison to 25% of immotile spermatozoa (P < 0.05). Immotile spermatozoa exhibited a greater disruption in the formation of the chromocenter, altered position of the centromere of chromosome 17, and were more prone to chemical decondensation, resulting in higher nuclear and chromocenter volumes. The altered topology of the chromosomes might lead to the disruption of the sequence of events involved in fertilization and early embryonic development.

MeSH terms

  • Centromere / physiology*
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 17 / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional*
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence*
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence*
  • Sperm Motility*
  • Spermatozoa / physiology*