Human sperm maintain their shape following decondensation and denaturation for fluorescent in situ hybridization: Shape analysis and objective morphometry

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Biology of Reproduction










The relationship between abnormal sperm morphology and chromosomal aberrations has been of interest. Thus far, however, studies have focused on frequencies of sperm with either abnormal morphology or aneuploidies in semen samples, not on detection of individual spermatozoa exhibiting both abnormal morphology and aneuploidy. To assess the feasibility of simultaneous evaluation of both attributes in an individual sperm cell, we investigated whether sperm shape is preserved after decondensation and denaturation, procedures that are required for fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH). On 21 slides, 395 sperm were fixed, photographed, and then digitized by the computer-assisted Metamorph morphometry program for individual evaluation before decondensation. To establish whether sperm of various shapes would behave in similar manners, the cells were also classified, according to their head shapes, into symmetrical (n = 115), asymmetrical (n = 115), irregular (n = 115), and amorphous (n = 50) categories. Following decondensation and subsequent denaturation, sperm that had been photographed initially were relocalized and digitized for morphometry. Head area, perimeter, long axis, short axis, shape factor, and tail length were evaluated in each of the 395 sperm in both the native and decondensed states. After the decondensation and denaturation protocol of the FISH procedure, the sperm exhibited a proportional increase in dimensions as compared to their original sizes. Their initial shapes were preserved with high fidelity whether the sperm were in the symmetrical, asymmetrical, irregular, or amorphous categories. Hybridization with the chromosome probes had no further effect on sperm shape or size. We provide images to demonstrate how these findings facilitate studies about the relationship between sperm shape and chromosomal content or aberrations in individual spermatozoa.