Sperm treatment with extracellular ATP increases fertilization rates in in-vitro fertilization for male factor infertility

M. Rossato, G. B. La Sala, M. Balasini, E. Taricco, C. Galeazzi, A. Ferlin, C. Foresta, Clinica Medica

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous work from our laboratory has revealed that extracellular ATP is a rapid and potent activator of human sperm acrosome reaction and fertilizing ability. In the present study, we assessed the effects of in-vitro sperm incubation with ATP on fertilization and embryo development in couples undergoing in-vitro fertilization (IVF) for male factor infertility. Oocytes from 22 women undergoing ovulation induction were divided in two groups and inseminated in vitro either with selected spermatozoa from the corresponding partner suffering from male factor infertility pre-incubated with ATP (2.5 mM) for 1 h, or with spermatozoa incubated with 0.9% NaCl solution (control group). After insemination, fertilization was assessed by the presence of pronuclei and then by embryo cleavage. The fertilization rate in the group of oocytes inseminated with ATP-treated spermatozoa improved significantly with respect to the control group (65.7 versus 42.5%, P <0.01). No significant differences were observed in embryo cleavage and embryo quality. Embryos from both treated and control groups were transferred together in 20 transfer procedures, and in two couples fertilization was not obtained. Nine pregnancies occurred: one biochemical, one miscarriage, and seven patients delivered 9 healthy babies. Two pregnancies were twin with an overall pregnancy rate of 40.9% per cycle and of 45% per transfer. In conclusion, the results of the present study demonstrate that, in humans, extracellular ATP induces a significant increase of sperm fertilizing potential, as these findings are a rationale for the use of ATP for in-vitro treatment of human spermatozoa during IVF.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)694-697
Number of pages4
JournalHuman Reproduction
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • ATP
  • Fertilization
  • Human spermatozoa
  • Infertility
  • IVF

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Reproductive Medicine


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