Critical evaluation of methylcellulose as an alternative medium in sperm migration tests

Ana Ivic, Helen Onyeaka, Alan Girling, Ian A. Brewis, Bolarinde Ola, Nahed Hammadieh, Spyros Papaioannou, Christopher L.R. Barratt (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: The aim of this study was to evaluate the ability of human spermatozoa to penetrate methylcellulose (MC) and to compare this with penetration in hyaluronic acid.

METHODS: Spermatozoa from normal (>or=20 x 10(6) sperm/ml, >or=50% progressive motility, >or=5% normal forms) and oligozoospermic (<20 x 10(6) sperm/ml) semen samples were allowed to swim into glass capillary tubes containing methylcellulose with a viscosity of 15 centipoise (cp) (MC15) and 4000 cp (MC4000), hyaluronic acid (rooster comb) or Sperm Select. Penetration of the spermatozoa at 1, 2, 3 and 4 cm were correlated with basic semen parameters (concentration, motility and morphology). The effects of temperature on penetration into MC4000 were explored at 17-37 degrees C.

RESULTS: Higher numbers of spermatozoa penetrated MC4000 (10 mg/ml) compared with MC15 and the hyaluronic acid preparations. There was a highly significant correlation between the number of spermatozoa at all migration distances in MC4000 (10 mg/ml) and semen parameters. Increases in temperature from 17-37 degrees C were accompanied by significantly higher numbers of spermatozoa at each penetration distance. MC4000 at 10 mg/ml was at least as favourable to sperm penetration as human cervical mucus. Effective discrimination between normal and abnormal samples was achieved using MC4000 (10 mg/ml).

CONCLUSION: Our results suggest the potential use of methylcellulose (MC4000, 10 mg/ml) as a reproducible and effective alternative to hyaluronic acid in sperm migration tests.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-149
Number of pages7
JournalHuman Reproduction
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2002


  • Cervix Mucus
  • False Positive Reactions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyaluronic Acid
  • Infertility, Male/diagnosis
  • Male
  • Methylcellulose
  • Oligospermia/pathology
  • ROC Curve
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sperm Motility
  • Sperm-Ovum Interactions
  • Temperature
  • Viscosity


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