Evaluation of sperm tail membrane integrity by light microscopy

Sz Nagy, G. Házas, Á Bali Papp, J. Iváncsics, F. Szász, F. Szász, A. Kovács, R. H. Foote

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27 Citations (Scopus)


During routine evaluation of trypan blue-Giemsa stained semen smears, sperm cells can be found with unstained heads and with stained tails. It was hypothesized that these cells were immotile and should not be considered as live. Sperm motility was determined in isoosmotic, and presumably isotonic trypan blue-stained wet preparations. Bull, ram and boar semen smears were stained with hypoosmotic trypan blue-Giemsa to compare the relationship between the percentage of stained sperm tails and the percentage of sperm tails remaining straight under hypoosmotic conditions. Actively moving spermatozoa with unstained heads, but with stained tails were never observed in wet preparations. The correlation coefficient found between the percentage of sperm with stained tails and the percentage with straight tails was 0.81, 0.94 and 0.85 for bull, ram and boar spermatozoa, respectively. Results of this study show that sperm cells with an intact head membrane, but a stained and presumably membrane-damaged tail are not motile. Therefore these cells should be included in the dead category rather than alive in the usual live- dead studies with vital stains.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1153-1159
Number of pages7
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 1999


  • Boar
  • Bull
  • Membrane integrity
  • Ram
  • Spermatozoa
  • Viability staining

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Small Animals
  • Food Animals
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Equine

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    Nagy, S., Házas, G., Bali Papp, Á., Iváncsics, J., Szász, F., Szász, F., Kovács, A., & Foote, R. H. (1999). Evaluation of sperm tail membrane integrity by light microscopy. Theriogenology, 52(7), 1153-1159. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0093-691X(99)00207-1