Sperm attraction to a follicular factor(s) correlates with human egg fertilizability

Dina Ralt, Mordechai Goldenberg, Peter Fetterolf, Dana Thompson, Jehoshua Dor, Shlomo Mashiach, David L. Garberss, Michael Eisenbach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Spermatozoa normally encounter the egg at the fertilization site (in the Fallopian tube) within 24 hr after ovulation. A considerable fraction of the spermatozoa ejaculated into the female reproductive tract of mammals remains motionless in storage sites until ovulation, when the spermatozoa resume maximal motility and reach the fertilization site within minutes. The nature of the signal for sperm movement is not known, but one possible mechanism is attraction of spermatozoa to a factor(s) released from the egg. We have obtained evidence in favor of such a possibility by showing that human spermatozoa accumulate in follicular fluid in vitro. This accumulation into follicular fluid was higher by 30-260% than that observed with buffer alone and was highly significant (P < 10-8). Not all of the follicular fluids caused sperm accumulation; however, there was a remarkably strong correlation (P < 0.0001) between the ability of follicular fluid from a particular follicle to cause sperm accumulation and the ability of the egg, obtained from the same follicle, to be fertilized. These findings suggest that attraction may be a key event in the fertilization process and may give an insight into the mechanism underlying early egg-sperm communication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2840-2844
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Apr 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • Chemotaxis
  • Fertilization
  • Follicular fluid
  • Sperm accumulation
  • Sperm-egg communication


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