-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
TUESDAY, May 8 (HealthDay News) -- Sperm cells navigate the
complex fluid-filled channels of the female reproductive tract by
crawling along walls and swimming around corners, a new study
And although millions of sperm cells are ejaculated, the few
that actually reach an egg collide frequently along the way.
This new insight on how sperm travel could help scientists
develop new treatments for infertile couples, say British
researchers who injected the cells into hair-thin microchannels, or
mini-mazes, to identify which sperm are the fastest swimmers and
"In basic terms, how do we find the 'Usain Bolt' among the millions of sperm in an ejaculate," study author Dr. Jackson Kirkman-Brown, lead in reproductive biology at the University of Birmingham and science lead at the Birmingham Women's Fertility Centre, said in a news release.
"Sperm cell following walls is one of those cases when a complicated physiological system obeys very simple mechanical rules," study leader Dr. Petr Denissenko, at the University of Warwick's School of Engineering, said in the news release.
As described by the researchers, the sperm's journey sounds more
like a bumper car ride than a smooth swim upstream.
"When the channel turns sharply, cells leave the corner, continuing ahead until hitting the opposite wall of the channel, with a distribution of departure angles, the latter being modulated by fluid viscosity," the researchers said. "Specific wall shapes are able to preferentially direct motile cells."
The researchers concluded their findings could help scientists
developing treatments for infertility to identify the strongest
The findings appear online in this week's issue of the
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health provides more information
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © EBSCO Publishing. All rights reserved.