Greater numbers of human spermatozoa associate with endosalpingeal cells derived from the isthmus compared with those from the ampulla

H S Baillie, A A Pacey (Lead / Corresponding author), M A Warren, I W Scudamore, C L Barratt

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66 Citations (Scopus)


A simple co-culture bioassay system was used to investigate whether or not the anatomical origin affected the ability of epithelial cells from the human uterine (Fallopian) tube to 'bind' spermatozoa. This study was also used to identify some of the factors which may be involved in the regulation of sperm-epithelial interactions in vitro by comparing different tissue culture models and assessing the effect of oestradiol concentration. Epithelial explants harvested from different regions of human uterine tubes were co-incubated with a known concentration of motile donor spermatozoa. All results were adjusted to reflect a standard sperm concentration of 5 x 10(6)/ml. More spermatozoa associated per field of isthmic compared to ampullary epithelium [isthmus 9.5 +/- 0.9, ampulla 7.1 +/- 0.7 (mean +/- SEM); n = 36, P < 0.05, ANOVA] and cells from post-menopausal patients had an apparently reduced ability to bind spermatozoa [isthmus 5.5 +/- 2.0, ampulla 4.3 +/- 1.4 (mean +/- SEM); n = 4]. Neither menstrual cycle stage nor addition of mid-cycle concentrations of 17beta-oestradiol (750 pmol/l) affected the number of spermatozoa which bound to epithelium from either tubal region. In addition, the number of spermatozoa which bound per field of polarized explants was greater (P < 0.05) than that bound to dissociated primary and passaged epithelial cell monolayers. This report is the first to provide evidence suggestive of a role for sperm-epithelial binding in the formation of an isthmic sperm reservoir in the human uterine tube. Results also indicate that oestrogen is not involved in the regulation of these interactions, and that cell polarity is an important factor for such associations in vitro.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1985-92
Number of pages8
JournalHuman Reproduction
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 1997


  • Cell Adhesion/drug effects
  • Cell Polarity
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Coculture Techniques
  • Endometrium/cytology
  • Epithelial Cells/cytology
  • Estradiol/pharmacology
  • Fallopian Tubes/cytology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Menstrual Cycle
  • Sperm Count
  • Sperm Motility
  • Spermatozoa/physiology


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