Effects of the coculture with human endometrial cells on the function of spermatozoa from subfertile men

F. M. Fusi, P. Vigano, R. Daverio, M. Busacca, M. Vignali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To evaluate the effects of a coculture with human endometrial cells on the function of spermatozoa from samples obtained from infertile couples. Design: In a prospective study, human spermatozoa selected by swim- up from fresh samples were cultured on human endometrial feeder layers. Thereafter, their viability, motility, acrosome integrity, and ability to penetrate zona-free hamster oocytes were evaluated. Spermatozoa from the same samples incubated under the same conditions but in the absence of endometrial cells, as well as in the medium previously spent for cell culture, were used as controls. Setting: Andrology Laboratory of the Infertility Center of San Raffaele Hospital. Patients: Spermatozoa were obtained from 17 infertile men attending the Infertility Center at our hospital. Results: Spermatozoa incubated in the presence of endometrial cell feeder layers did not differ from controls with regard to their viability or motility. Conversely, the percent spontaneous acrosome reactions after 18 hours of incubation was significantly higher for spermatozoa cocultured (19.7 ± 2.2 versus 11.2 ± 1.9; mean ± SE). The mean number of spermatozoa penetrating hamster oocytes was also significantly improved (1.24 ± 0.3 versus 0.68 ± 0.24). This effect did not seem to be solely due to the secretion of soluble factors by endometrial cells in the medium, in that spermatozoa incubated in the medium spent for endometrial cell culture had a similar acrosome reaction percentage but a lower rate of hamster egg penetration. Conclusions: The coculture with human endometrial cells appeared to be beneficial for improving the sperm function. This effect partially may be due to the secretion of steroids in the medium, which increases the quota of spontaneous acrosome reaction and in part due to the direct contact of cells with spermatozoa, maybe for the detoxification of the medium or the release of trophic factors. Coculture might be a promising approach to preparing spermatozoa for assisted fertilization in cases of subfertile males.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160-167
Number of pages8
JournalFertility and Sterility
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1994


  • acrosome reaction
  • coculture
  • endometrial cells
  • hamster egg penetration
  • Spermatozoa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology


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