Function and structure of cilia in the fallopian tube of an infertile woman with Kartagener's syndrome

Hum Reprod. 1997 Jan;12(1):55-8. doi: 10.1093/humrep/12.1.55.


In Kartagener's syndrome (KS), primary defects of the ciliary axoneme cause dyskinetic ciliary motion. Because ciliary motion is an important factor in normal ovum transport, ciliary dyskinesia may cause infertility. On the other hand, the existence of some ciliary activity, albeit abnormal, may account for fertility in some women with KS. In this case study, an infertile woman diagnosed with KS had normal results in all usual infertility tests. Biopsies of tubal mucosa were obtained at laparoscopy for ovum recovery during an in-vitro fertilization cycle. Ciliary activity, measured by laser light-scattering spectroscopy, was detected in all tubal specimens; however the majority of regions sampled showed no activity. In active regions, beat frequency ranged from 5 to 10 Hz, approximately 30% of normal. Electron microscopy showed similar morphological defects in both tubal and nasal mucosa. The number of cilia per cell was approximately 20% of normal. The major ultrastructural abnormality of cilia was an absence of the central microtubules. The only demonstrable explanation for this patient's infertility was primary ciliary dyskinesia associated with KS.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cilia / physiology*
  • Cilia / ultrastructure*
  • Fallopian Tubes / ultrastructure*
  • Female
  • Fertilization in Vitro
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Female / etiology
  • Infertility, Female / pathology*
  • Infertility, Female / physiopathology
  • Kartagener Syndrome / complications*
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Mucous Membrane / ultrastructure
  • Nasal Mucosa / ultrastructure