Published online by Cambridge University Press: 02 March 2009
The lack of reliable methods to assess sperm fertilizing potential has been a long-standing problem for infertile couples and for their physicians. The most widely used tests, the measurements of sperm concentrations, motility, velocity and morphology in the ejaculate, are of limited utility. Indeed, following intrauterine insemination, a treatment that compensates for low motile sperm concentrations, there were no significant differences found in semen parameters among those who did or did not achieve pregnancies. Other available assays probing for selected sperm functions, such as membrane integrity, acrosome enzyme activity, bovine cervical mucus penetration test, zona-free hamster oocyte penetration test and sperm binding to various carbohydrates,10–13 have all failed thus far to consistently predict male fertility. It became increasingly obvious that there was a need to identify cellular markers of sperm quality and fertilizing potential.