The characterisation of non-sperm cells in the ejaculates of fertile men using transmission electron microscopy

D. C. Smith, C. L. R. Barratt, M. A. Williams

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The non-spermatozoal cells (NSC) in the semen samples of 20 fertile human males have been studied by transmission electron microscopy (TEM), in order to accurately distinguish between the different types of cell present and to give a quantitative profile of their relative proportions. The main seminal constituents of the average fertile man were found to be the germinal elements, accounting for 84.0% of the total NSC population. Of this percentage the anucleate bodies, designated "CM" in this study, were the greatest component (43.0%, SEM +/- 4.7). Spermatids were the next commonly occurring cell (22.2%, SEM +/- 2.9), the anucleate cellular masses with organelles, CM(O)'s and the spermatocytes making up the remaining 18.8%. Leucocytes accounted for 13% of the total NSC, respectively: neutrophils - 12% (SEM +/- 4.5); macrophages - 0.9% (SEM +/- 0.3) lymphocytes - 0.1% (SEM +/- 0.1). The remaining 3% consisted of 2.3% (SEM +/- 0.7) epithelial cells and 0.7% (SEM +/- 0.4) Sertoli cells. The principal conclusions reached were: that some normal ejaculates host active phagocytosis and possibly macrophage activation; that anucleate bodies which form a major component of the ejaculate merit further quantitative study and that the shedding of spermatids is an interesting and important aspect of ejaculation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-333
Number of pages15
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1989


  • Cytoplasm/analysis
  • Ejaculation
  • Fertility
  • Humans
  • Lymphocytes/analysis
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Phagocytes/analysis
  • Semen/cytology
  • Sertoli Cells/analysis
  • Spermatids/analysis
  • Spermatocytes/analysis


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