Prediction of Sperm Progression in Three Dimensions Using Rapid Optical Imaging and Dynamic Mechanical Modeling

Cells. 2022 Apr 13;11(8):1319. doi: 10.3390/cells11081319.


We present a multidisciplinary approach for predicting how sperm cells with various morphologies swim in three-dimensions (3D), from milliseconds to much longer time scales at spatial resolutions of less than half a micron. We created the sperm 3D geometry and built a numerical mechanical model using the experimentally acquired dynamic 3D refractive-index profiles of sperm cells swimming in vitro as imaged by high-resolution optical diffraction tomography. By controlling parameters in the model, such as the size and shape of the sperm head and tail, we can then predict how different sperm cells, normal or abnormal, would swim in 3D, in the short or long term. We quantified various 3D structural factor effects on the sperm long-term motility. We found that some abnormal sperm cells swim faster than normal sperm cells, in contrast to the commonly used sperm selection assumption during in vitro fertilization (IVF), according to which sperm cells should mainly be chosen based on their progressive motion. We thus establish a new tool for sperm analysis and male-infertility diagnosis, as well as sperm selection criteria for fertility treatments.

Keywords: biomechanical modeling; interferometric computed tomography; sperm; tomographic phase microscopy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Fertilization in Vitro
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Male* / therapy
  • Male
  • Optical Imaging
  • Sperm Motility
  • Spermatozoa*