Spermatozoa Development

From Embryology
Jump to: navigation, search
Embryology - 24 Nov 2015 Facebook linkTwitter linkPinterest link Translate 

Arabic | Chinese (simplified) | French | German | Hebrew | Hindi | Indonesian | Italian | Japanese | Korean | Portuguese | Romanian | Russian | Spanish | Yiddish
These external translations are automated and may not be accurate.

Frazer002 bw600.jpg


Human spermatozoa (light microscope)
Human spermatozoa (electron microscope)
Single human spermatozoa[1]

This page introduces spermatogenesis the development of spermatozoa, the male haploid gamete cell. In humans at puberty, spermatozoa are produced by spermatogonia meiosis in the seminiferous tubules of the testis (male gonad). A second process of spermiogenesis leads to change in cellular organisation and shape before release into the central lumen of the seminiferous tubule. This overall process has been variously divided into specific identifiable stages in different species: 6 in human, 12 in mouse, and 14 in rat. Structurally, the seminiferous tubule epithelium is divided into a basal and an apical (adluminal) compartment by the blood–testis barrier (BTB). (More? Testis Development).

A second unique feature of this process is that during mitosis and meiosis the dividing cells remain connected by cytoplasmic bridges as the cells do not complete cytokinesis. This cellular organization is described as a syncytium, only ending with release into the central lumen of the seminiferous tubule, when the cell cytoplasm is discarded.

In a healthy adult human male it takes about 48 days from meiosis to produce a mature spermatozoa, and he produces somewhere between 45 to 207 million spermatozoa per day, or about 2,000 every second. (More? Statistics)

Genital Links: Introduction | Lecture - Medicine | Lecture - Science | Medicine - Practical | Primordial Germ Cell | Meiosis | Female | Ovary | Oocyte | Uterus | Vagina | Reproductive Cycles | Menstrual Cycle | Male | Testis | Spermatozoa | Prostate | Genital Movies | Abnormalities | Assisted Reproductive Technology | Puberty | Category:Genital
Historic Embryology - Genital 
1902 The Uro-Genital System | 1912 Urinogenital Organ Development | 1921 Urogenital Development | 1921 External Genital Development | 1927 Female Foetus 15 cm | 1943 Testes Descent | Historic Disclaimer
Medicine Practical | Fertilization | Category:Spermatozoa

Some Recent Findings

  • Morphometric dimensions of the human sperm head depend on the staining method used.[2] "Different staining techniques change the morphometric dimensions of the human sperm head, probably due to the fact that either the fixatives or stains are not iso-osmotic in relation to human semen."
  • Redistribution of nuclear pores[3] "The appearance of an electron-lucent nuclear region surrounded by the nascent redundant nuclear envelope indicated a pathway for transporting degradation products through the nuclear pores to the residual cytoplasm. The packaging of the nuclear pores into the redundant nuclear envelope suggests that they play a role in late stages of sperm maturation or in fertilization, as most other unnecessary organelles of sperm are discarded during spermiogenesis or during shedding of the cytoplasmic droplet."
  • Calpain modulates capacitation and acrosome reaction[4] "We found that calpain-1 is relocated and translocated from cytoplasm to plasma membrane during capacitation, where it could cleave spectrin, one of the proteins of the plasma membrane-associated cytoskeleton and facilitates acrosome reaction."
  • Spermatocytes cultured in simulated microgravity[5] "A critical step of spermatogenesis is the entry of mitotic spermatogonia into meiosis. Progresses on these topics are hampered by the lack of an in vitro culture system allowing mouse spermatogonia differentiation and entry into meiosis. Previous studies have shown that mouse pachytene spermatocytes cultured in simulated microgravity (SM) undergo a spontaneous meiotic progression. Here we report that mouse mitotic spermatogonia cultured under SM with a rotary cell culture system (RCCS) enter into meiosis in the absence of any added exogenous factor or contact with somatic cells."
More recent papers
Mark Hill.jpg
This table shows an automated computer PubMed search using the listed sub-heading term.
  • Therefore the list of references do not reflect any editorial selection of material based on content or relevance.
  • References appear in this list based upon the date of the actual page viewing.

References listed on the rest of the content page and the associated discussion page (listed under the publication year sub-headings) do include some editorial selection based upon both relevance and availability.

Links: References | Discussion Page | Pubmed Most Recent | Journal Searches

Search term: Spermatozoa Development

Stefan Koch, Sergio P Acebron, Jessica Herbst, Gencay Hatiboglu, Christof Niehrs Post-transcriptional Wnt Signaling Governs Epididymal Sperm Maturation. Cell: 2015, 163(5);1225-1236 PubMed 26590424

Ting Gong, Quanwei Wei, Dagan Mao, Fangxiong Shi Expression patterns of taste receptor type 1 subunit 3 and α-gustducin in the mouse testis during development. Acta Histochem.: 2015; PubMed 26589384

Yan Li, Hai Y Wang, Juan Liu, Ning Li, Yan W Wang, Wen T Wang, Jian Y Li Characterization of Prohibitins in male reproductive system and its expression under oxidative stress. J. Urol.: 2015; PubMed 26585677

Hongxia Yuan, Fenjv Qin, Weiqiang Guo, Huajie Gu, Aihua Shao Oxidative stress and spermatogenesis suppression in the testis of cadmium-treated Bombyx mori larvae. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int: 2015; PubMed 26585454

Matías D Gómez-Elías, María J Munuce, Luis Bahamondes, Patricia S Cuasnicú, Débora J Cohen In vitro and in vivo effects of ulipristal acetate on fertilization and early embryo development in mice. Hum. Reprod.: 2015; PubMed 26582845

Spermatozoa Movies

Human spermatozoa penetrating zona pellucida during fertilisation
Human spermatozoa penetrating the zona pellucida during fertilisation (see Movie).

See also Week 1 movies.

Spermatozoa animation icon.jpg
Page | Play
Spermatozoa motility icon 01.jpg
 ‎‎Spermatozoa Motility
Page | Play
Spermatozoa chemotaxis icon.jpg
Sperm Chemotaxis
Page | Play
Human fertilization 1 icon.jpg
 ‎‎Human Fertilization
Page | Play
Human fertilization 2 icon.jpg
 ‎‎Human Fertilization
Page | Play
Fertilization 002 icon.jpg
Page | Play
Fertilization 001 icon.jpg
 ‎‎Mouse Fertilisation
Page | Play
Links: Week 1 movies | Movies

Seminiferous Tubule

Adult Seminiferous tubule showing spermatozoa developmental stages
Seminiferous tubule cross-section and supporting cells
Rat Spermatogenesis cartoon[6]

Seminiferous tubule cartoon.jpg

Seminiferous tubule cartoon[7]

  • Spermatogonia - are the first cells of spermatogenesis
  • Primary spermatocyte - large, enter the prophase of the first meiotic division
  • Secondary spermatocytes - small, complete the second meiotic division
  • Spermatid] - immature spermatozoa
  • Spermatozoa - differentiated gamete
Spermatozoa development: primordial germ cell - spermatogonia - primary spermatocyte - secondary spermatocytes - spermatid - spermatozoa

Links: Testis Histology | Testis Development

Spermatozoa Structure

Mouse- spermatozoa EM and diagram.jpg

Spermatozoa (mouse) cross-sections of tail (EM) and diagram[8]

Other main cell types seen in the histological sections

  • Sertoli cells- support cells seen within the seminiferous tubule
  • Interstitial cells or Leydig cells - produce hormone
  • Smooth muscle - surround seminiferous tubule and contribute to contraction of the tubule

Human Spermatozoa Development

  • Spermatogenesis process of spermatagonia mature into spermatazoa (sperm).
  • Continuously throughout life occurs in the seminiferous tubules in the male gonad- testis (plural testes).
  • At puberty spermatagonia activate and proliferate (mitosis).
  • about 48 days from entering meiosis until morphologically mature spermatozoa
  • about 64 days to complete spermatogenesis, depending reproduction time of spermatogonia
  • follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) - stimulates the spermatogenic epithelium
  • luteinizing-hormone (LH) - stimulates testosterone production by Leydig cells


  • spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) diploid progenitor for spermatozoa.
  • 1963 Clermont identified spermatogonia as Ap (pale) and Ad (dark) on basis of light microscope staining.[9]
    • now also type B
  • 60 years - Ap spermatogonia number decrease
  • 80 years - Ad spermatogonia number decrease

Spermatogenic Cycle

Along the length of the seminiferous tubule spermatozoa develop in a cyclic manner over time progressing through a number of stages, called the spermatogenic cycle, see review.[10]. The number of stages appears to differ between species, in mouse there are 12 stages (I – XII) and in the rat 14 stages.

In mouse, one spermatogenic cycle (12 stages) occurs over 8.6 days and four cycles (35 days) are required from spermatogonial stem cell to released spermatozoa.

Human PMID 8364962 Gerbil PMID 15477358

Sertoli Cells

Histology Sertoli cell
Sertoli cells

Named after Enrico Sertoli (1842 - 1910) an Italian (Milan) physiologist and histologist.

  • sustentacular cells of seminiferous tubules.
  • form a “blood-testis” barrier through junctional complexes
  • separate the intra-tubular germinal epithelium into two compartments
  1. basal compartment - cells are exposed to the extra-tubular environment
  2. luminal compartment - cells are subject to an environment produced by Sertoli cells and germ cells

Spermatazoa Components

Mouse- spermatozoa EM and diagram.jpg

Spermatozoa (mouse) cross-sections of tail (EM) and diagram[8]


This structure forms the acrosome plate with intermediate filament bundles of the marginal ring at the leading edge of the acrosome. The acroplaxome site for Golgi-derived proacrosomal vesicles to tether and fuse and anchors the developing acrosome to the elongating spermatid head and may provide a scaffolding for the shaping of the spermatid nucleus.[11]


Derived from the Golgi apparatus in conjunction with transient specialized bundles of microtubules (manchette).


The spermatozoa nucleus undergoes extensive compression, and nuclear DNA chromatin remodelling by tightly packing with spermatozoa-specific protamines. [12]

It is thought that the lysine-rich protein precursor (H1 histone) has evolved into the arginine-rich protamines.[13] Three major spermatozoa nuclear basic proteins types:
  1. histone type (H-type)
  2. protamine-like type (PL-type)
  3. protamine type (P-type)
EM Human Spermatozoa Nucleus
Human spermatid EM01.jpg Human spermatid EM02.jpg
Cap-phase spermatid nucleus[14] Elongated spermatid nucleus[14]
Human spermatozoa nucleus EM01.jpg Human spermatozoa nucleus EM03.jpg
Normal human spermatozoa[15] Abnormal human spermatozoa[15]


The stable mature microtubule-containing tail of the sperm.

Spermatozoa tail EM01.jpg Mouse- spermatozoa EM and diagram.jpg
Historic EM spermatozoon tail Mouse cross-sections of tail[8]


Sperm contains a centriole which in most mammalian species is contributed to reconstitute the zygotic centrosome. In rodents, only a maternal centrosomal inheritance occurs.


A transient microtubule structure formed in spermatids involved in the process of: assembly of the mammalian sperm tail, mechanical shaping and condensation of the sperm nucleus. These microtubules are also invloved with specific transport, intramanchette transport, which has been likened to intraflagellar transport. This microtubular structure surrounds the nucleus of the developing spermatid and is thought also to assist in both the reshaping of the nucleus and redistribution of spermatid cytoplasm.


Contained in the initial segment provide the energy for motility and may also enter the egg on fertilization, but are eliminated by a ubiquitin-dependent mechanism.

Perinuclear Theca

Located in the sperm head perinuclear region and contains a cytoskeletal element to maintain the shape of the sperm head and functional molecules leading to oocyte activation during fertilization.


Spermatozoa maturation involves two processes meiosis and spermiogenesis. After puberty, new spermatozoa continue to be generated throughout life from a spermatogonia stem cell population in the testis.

Male gametogenesis.jpg

Differences in Mammalian Meioses

Female Oogenesis Male Spermatogenesis
Meiosis initiated once in a finite population of cells continuously in mitotically dividing stem cell population
Gametes produced 1 / meiosis 4 / meiosis
Meiosis completed delayed for months or years completed in days or weeks
Meiosis Arrest arrest at 1st meiotic prophase no arrest differentiation proceed continuously
Chromosome Equivalence All chromosomes exhibit equivalent transcription and recombination during meiotic prophase Sex chromosomes excluded from recombination and transcription during first meiotic prophase
Gamete Differentiation occurs while diploid (in first meiotic prophase) occurs while haploid (after meiosis ends)

Links: Cell Division - Meiosis

Mature Human Spermatozoa

Spermatozoa animation icon.jpg Features:
  • 60 µm long, actively motile
  • divided into 3 main regions (head, neck and tail)
  • head - (flattened, 5 µm long by 3 µm wide) the nucleus and acrosome. Posterior part of nuclear membrane forms the basal plate.
  • neck - (1 µm) attached to basal plate, transverse oriented centriole, contains nine segmented columns of fibrous material, continue as outer dense fibres in tail.
  • tail - 3 parts a middle piece, principal piece and end piece
    • middle piece - (5 µm long) axonema and dense fibres surrounded by mitochondria
    • principal piece - (45 µm long) fibrous sheath interconnected by regularly spaced circumferential hoops
    • end piece - (5 µm long) axonema surrounded by small amount of cytoplasm and plasma membrane

Human Spermatazoa Statistics | Development Animation - Spermatozoa

Spermatozoa Morphology

Morphology is a term used to describe the overall appearance of a cell or tissue and is often used to characterise changes in cellular state or activity. Historically, there have been studies comparing the overall appearance of spermatozoa between different species.[16] More recently, there have been several different ways of characterising the morphology of human spermatozoa developed mainly in relation to clinical reproductive technologies.

Integrated Sperm Analysis System (ISAS)

A semi-automated computer-aided system that measures spermatozoa head parameters length (L), width (W), area (A), perimeter (P), acrosomal area (Ac), and the derived values L/W and P/A. 20852650

  • For each man a homogeneous population of distributions characterized seminal spermatozoa (7,942 cells: median values L 4.4 μm, W 2.8 μm, A 9.8 μm(2), P 12.5 μm, Ac 47.5%, L/W 1.57, P/A 1.27)
  • Different men could have spermatozoa of significantly different dimensions.
  • Head dimensions for swim-up spermatozoa from different men (4 812 cells) were similar to those in semen, differing only by 2%-5%.
  • The values of L, W and L/W fell within the limits given by the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • A subpopulation of 404 spermatozoa considered to fit the stringent criteria of WHO 'normal' seminal spermatozoa from both semen and swim-up were characterized by median values (and 95% confidence intervals) of L, 4.3 μm (3.8-4.9), W, 2.9 μm (2.6-3.3), A, 10.2 μm(2) (8.5-12.2), P, 12.4 μm (11.3-13.9), Ac, 49% (36-60), L/W, 1.49 (1.32-1.67) and P/A, 1.22 (1.11-1.35). These median values fall within the 95th centile confidence limits given by WHO, but the confidence intervals for L and W were larger.

Spermatozoa Chemotaxis

Chemotaxis was first identified in marine species[17], which still remains today as a model system. While the signals may differ, the overall effect is to chemically attack spermatozoa to the oocyte to allow fertilisation to occur.

The following series of 2011 research articles have identified the spermatozoa calcium channel protein (CatSper) as the progesterone activated pathway involved in capacitated spermatozoa chemotaxis.
  • The CatSper channel mediates progesterone-induced Ca2+ influx in human sperm[18]
  • Progesterone activates the principal Ca2+ channel of human sperm[19]
  • Spermatozoa hyperactivated motility[20]
    • part of the chemotactic response of human spermatozoa.
    • initiated by elevation of intracellular Ca2+
    • non-linear with increased velocity and a large amplitude of lateral head displacement
    • intense flagellar whiplash movements.
Spermatozoa chemotaxis icon.jpg
Sperm Chemotaxis
Page | Play

Human spermatozoa chemotaxis labeled model.jpg

Human Spermatozoa Chemotaxis Model (2009)[21]

See also 2008 review.[22]

Human Spermatazoa Statistics

Male Testis

The following data is based normal human male values for reproductive ages between 20 to 50 years[23]:

  • 45 to 207 million spermatozoa produced per day within the two testes
  • 2,000 spermatozoa approx per second each day
  • Compare this to adult human red blood cell production of about 250,000 million RBCs per day
  • 182 million spermatozoa stored (epididymal reserves) up to per epididymis
  • 440 million spermatozoa extragonadal stored
  • 225 million extragonadal spermatozoa in the ductuli deferentia and caudae epididymides per ejaculation
  • 23 million spermatozoa approx (all animals) per gram testicular parenchyma per day
  • Transit times
    • 0.72 day spermatozoa through the caput
    • 0.71 days spermatozoa through the corpus
    • 1.76 days spermatozoa through the cauda epididymidis


Papanicolaou stain (Papanicolaou's stain, Pap stain) a multichromatic (five dyes) staining histological technique developed by George Papanikolaou, used to differentiate cells in smear preparations of various bodily secretions.

Links: Testis Histology | Histology Stains

Male Abnormalities

Human Seminiferious Tubule - Non-obstructive azoospermia and Obstructive azoospermia

Johnsen score

A clinical score (1-10) for assessing spermatogenesis in a human testicular biopsy. Named after the author of the original article .[24]

Johnsen score Description
10 complete spermatogenesis and perfect tubules
9 many spermatozoa present but disorganized spermatogenesis
8 only a few spermatozoa present
7 no spermatozoa but many spermatids present
6 only a few spermatids present
5 no spermatozoa or spermatids present but many spermatocytes present
4 only a few spermatocytes present
3 only spermatogonia present
2 no germ cells present
1 neither germ cells nor Sertoli cells present

Classification Count (Millions/mL)
Azoospermia 0
Severe oligozoospermia less than 1
Moderate oligozoospermia 1-5
Mild oligozoospermia 5-20
Normal greater than 20


(Low Sperm Count) less than 20 million sperm after 72 hour abstinence from sex


(Absent Sperm) blockage of duct network

Immotile Cilia Syndrome

Lack of sperm motility

Additional Images


  1. João Batista A Oliveira, Claudia G Petersen, Fabiana C Massaro, Ricardo L R Baruffi, Ana L Mauri, Liliane F I Silva, Juliana Ricci, José G Franco Motile sperm organelle morphology examination (MSOME): intervariation study of normal sperm and sperm with large nuclear vacuoles. Reprod. Biol. Endocrinol.: 2010, 8;56 PubMed 20529256 | PMC2889997 | Reprod Biol Endocrinol.
  2. L Maree, S S du Plessis, R Menkveld, G van der Horst Morphometric dimensions of the human sperm head depend on the staining method used. Hum. Reprod.: 2010, 25(6);1369-82 PubMed 20400771
  3. Han-Chen Ho Redistribution of nuclear pores during formation of the redundant nuclear envelope in mouse spermatids. J. Anat.: 2010, 216(4);525-32 PubMed 20136667
  4. Yadira Bastián, Ana L Roa-Espitia, Adela Mújica, Enrique O Hernández-González Calpain modulates capacitation and acrosome reaction through cleavage of the spectrin cytoskeleton. Reproduction: 2010, 140(5);673-84 PubMed 20716611
  5. Manuela Pellegrini, Sara Di Siena, Giuseppina Claps, Silvia Di Cesare, Susanna Dolci, Pellegrino Rossi, Raffaele Geremia, Paola Grimaldi Microgravity promotes differentiation and meiotic entry of postnatal mouse male germ cells. PLoS ONE: 2010, 5(2);e9064 PubMed 20140225
  6. Yan-Ho Cheng, Elissa Wp Wong, C Yan Cheng Cancer/testis (CT) antigens, carcinogenesis and spermatogenesis. Spermatogenesis: 2011, 1(3);209-220 PubMed 22319669 | PMC3271663 | Spermatogenesis.
  7. Damien Hunter, Ravinder Anand-Ivell, Sandra Danner, Richard Ivell Models of in vitro spermatogenesis. Spermatogenesis: 2012, 2(1);32-43 PubMed 22553488 | PMC3341244 | Spermatogenesis
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Claire L Borg, Katja M Wolski, Gerard M Gibbs, Moira K O'Bryan Phenotyping male infertility in the mouse: how to get the most out of a 'non-performer'. Hum. Reprod. Update: 2009, 16(2);205-24 PubMed 19758979 | PMC2816191 | Hum Reprod Update.
  9. Y Clermont Spermatogenesis in man. A study of the spermatogonial population. Fertil. Steril.: 1966, 17(6);705-21 PubMed 5920556
  10. Y Clermont Kinetics of spermatogenesis in mammals: seminiferous epithelium cycle and spermatogonial renewal. Physiol. Rev.: 1972, 52(1);198-236 PubMed 4621362 | Physiol Rev.
  11. Abraham L Kierszenbaum, Laura L Tres The acrosome-acroplaxome-manchette complex and the shaping of the spermatid head. Arch. Histol. Cytol.: 2004, 67(4);271-84 PubMed 15700535
  12. Christina Rathke, Willy M Baarends, Stephan Awe, Renate Renkawitz-Pohl Chromatin dynamics during spermiogenesis. Biochim. Biophys. Acta: 2014, 1839(3);155-68 PubMed 24091090
  13. Núria Saperas, Juan Ausió Sperm nuclear basic proteins of tunicates and the origin of protamines. Biol. Bull.: 2013, 224(3);127-36 PubMed 23995738
  14. 14.0 14.1 V A Westbrook, P D Schoppee, G R Vanage, K L Klotz, A B Diekman, C J Flickinger, M A Coppola, J C Herr Hominoid-specific SPANXA/D genes demonstrate differential expression in individuals and protein localization to a distinct nuclear envelope domain during spermatid morphogenesis. Mol. Hum. Reprod.: 2006, 12(11);703-16 PubMed 17012309 | Mol Hum Reprod.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Farhad Golshan Iranpour The effects of protamine deficiency on ultrastructure of human sperm nucleus. Adv Biomed Res: 2014, 3;24 PubMed 24592371 | Adv Biomed Res.
  16. D W Fawcett A comparative view of sperm ultrastructure. Biol. Reprod.: 1970, 2;Suppl 2:90-127 PubMed 5521054 | Biol Reprod. PDF
  17. F R Lillie THE PRODUCTION OF SPERM ISO-AGGLUTININS BY OVA. Science: 1912, 36(929);527-30 PubMed 17735765
  18. Timo Strünker, Normann Goodwin, Christoph Brenker, Nachiket D Kashikar, Ingo Weyand, Reinhard Seifert, U Benjamin Kaupp The CatSper channel mediates progesterone-induced Ca2+ influx in human sperm. Nature: 2011, 471(7338);382-6 PubMed 21412338
  19. J V Johannessen [Physicians and leadership]. [Leger og ledelse.] Tidsskr. Nor. Laegeforen.: 1992, 112(23);2950 PubMed 1412339
  20. Leah Armon, Michael Eisenbach Behavioral mechanism during human sperm chemotaxis: involvement of hyperactivation. PLoS ONE: 2011, 6(12);e28359 PubMed 22163296
  21. Maria E Teves, Hector A Guidobaldi, Diego R Uñates, Raul Sanchez, Werner Miska, Stephen J Publicover, Aduén A Morales Garcia, Laura C Giojalas Molecular mechanism for human sperm chemotaxis mediated by progesterone. PLoS ONE: 2009, 4(12);e8211 PubMed 19997608
  22. U Benjamin Kaupp, Nachiket D Kashikar, Ingo Weyand Mechanisms of sperm chemotaxis. Annu. Rev. Physiol.: 2008, 70;93-117 PubMed 17988206
  23. R P Amann, S S Howards Daily spermatozoal production and epididymal spermatozoal reserves of the human male. J. Urol.: 1980, 124(2);211-5 PubMed 6772801
  24. S G Johnsen Testicular biopsy score count--a method for registration of spermatogenesis in human testes: normal values and results in 335 hypogonadal males. Hormones: 1970, 1(1);2-25 PubMed 5527187


  • Spermatogenesis | PubMed - Spermatogenesis "Spermatogenesis is a new quarterly, peer-reviewed journal that will publish high-quality articles covering all aspects of spermatogenesis."
  • WHO. WHO Laboratory Manual for the Examination and Processing of Human Semen. 5th ed. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2010. Online PDF


Michael D Griswold Spermatogenesis: The Commitment to Meiosis. Physiol. Rev.: 2016, 96(1);1-17 PubMed 26537427

Pankaj Talwar, Suryakant Hayatnagarkar Sperm function test. J Hum Reprod Sci: 2015, 8(2);61-9 PubMed 26157295

Shosei Yoshida Stem cells in mammalian spermatogenesis. Dev. Growth Differ.: 2010, 52(3);311-7 PubMed 20388168

Cathryn A Hogarth, Michael D Griswold The key role of vitamin A in spermatogenesis. J. Clin. Invest.: 2010, 120(4);956-62 PubMed 20364093

Saleela M Ruwanpura, Robert I McLachlan, Sarah J Meachem Hormonal regulation of male germ cell development. J. Endocrinol.: 2010, 205(2);117-31 PubMed 20144980

Louis Hermo, R-Marc Pelletier, Daniel G Cyr, Charles E Smith Surfing the wave, cycle, life history, and genes/proteins expressed by testicular germ cells. Part 1: background to spermatogenesis, spermatogonia, and spermatocytes. Microsc. Res. Tech.: 2010, 73(4);241-78 PubMed 19941293

Louis Hermo, R-Marc Pelletier, Daniel G Cyr, Charles E Smith Surfing the wave, cycle, life history, and genes/proteins expressed by testicular germ cells. Part 2: changes in spermatid organelles associated with development of spermatozoa. Microsc. Res. Tech.: 2010, 73(4);279-319 PubMed 19941292

U Benjamin Kaupp, Nachiket D Kashikar, Ingo Weyand Mechanisms of sperm chemotaxis. Annu. Rev. Physiol.: 2008, 70;93-117 PubMed 17988206

Edward M Eddy, Kiyotaka Toshimori, Deborah A O'Brien Fibrous sheath of mammalian spermatozoa. Microsc. Res. Tech.: 2003, 61(1);103-15 PubMed 12672126

D G de Rooij, L D Russell All you wanted to know about spermatogonia but were afraid to ask. J. Androl.: 2000, 21(6);776-98 PubMed 11105904



NCBI Bookshelf

MBoC - Sperm | MBoC - Highly simplified drawing of a cross-section of a seminiferous tubule in a mammalian testis | MBoC - Cytoplasmic bridges in developing sperm cells and their precursors



  • asthenozoospermia - (asthenospermia) Term for reduced sperm motility and can be the cause of male infertility.
  • blood-testis barrier - (BTB) Formed by tight junctions, basal ectoplasmic specializations, desmosome-like junctions and gap junctions between adjacent Sertoli cells near the basement membrane of the seminiferous epithelium.
  • capacitation - term describing the process by which spermaozoa become capable of fertilizing an oocyte, requires membrane changes, removal of surface glycoproteins and increased motility.
  • Leydig cell - (interstitial cell) Male gonad (testis) cell which secrete the androgen testosterone, beginning in the fetus. These cells are named after Franz von Leydig (1821 - 1908) a German scientist who histologically described these cells.
  • primary spermatocyte - arranged in the seminiferous tubule wall deep (luminal) to the spermatogonia. These large cells enter the prophase of the first meiotic division. (More? Meiosis)
  • Sertoli cells - (sustentacular cell) These cells are the spermatozoa supporting cells, nutritional and mechanical, as well as forming a blood-testis barrier. The cell cytoplasm spans all layers of the seminiferous tubule. The cells are named after Enrico Sertoli (1842 - 1910), and italian physiologist and histologist.
  • sperm annulus - (Jensen's ring; Latin, annulus = ring) A region of the mammalian sperm flagellum connecting the midpiece and the principal piece. The annulus is a septin-based structure formed from SEPT1, 4, 6, 7 and 12. Septins are polymerizing GTPases that can act as a scaffold forming hetero-oligomeric filaments required for cytokinesis and other cell cycle roles.
  • spermatogenesis - (Greek, genesis = origin, creation, generation) The term used to describe the process of diploid spermatagonia division and differentiation to form haploid spermatazoa within the testis (male gonad). The process includes the following cellular changes: meiosis, reoorganization of DNA, reduction in DNA content, reorganization of cellular organelles, morphological changes (cell shape). The final process of change in cell shape is also called spermiogenesis.
  • spermatogenesis - (Greek, genesis = origin, creation, generation) The maturation process of the already haploid spermatazoa into the mature sperm shape and organization. This process involves reorganization of cellular organelles (endoplasmic reticulum, golgi apparatus, mitochondria), cytoskeletal changes (microtubule organization) and morphological changes (cell shape, acrosome and tail formation).
  • spermatogonia - The cells located in the seminiferous tubule adjacent to the basal membrane that either divide and separate to renew the stem cell population, or they divide and stay together as a pair (Apr spermatogonia) connected by an intercellular cytoplasmic bridge to differentiate and eventually form spermatazoa.
  • spermatozoa head - Following spermiogenesis, the first region of the spermatozoa containing the haploid nucleus and acrosome. In humans, it is a flattened structure (5 µm long by 3 µm wide) with the posterior part of nuclear membrane forming the basal plate region. The human spermatozoa is about 60 µm long, actively motile and divided into 3 main regions (head, neck and spermatozoa tail).
  • spermatozoa neck - Following spermiogenesis, the second region of the spermatozoa attached to basal plate, transverse oriented centriole, contains nine segmented columns of fibrous material, continue as outer dense fibres in tail. In humans, it forms a short structure (1 µm). The human spermatozoa is about 60 µm long, actively motile and divided into 3 main regions (head, neck and tail).
  • spermatozoa tail - Following spermiogenesis, the third region of the spermatozoa that has a head, neck and tail). The tail is also divided into 3 structural regions a middle piece, a principal piece and an end piece. In humans: the middle piece (5 µm long) is formed by axonema and dense fibres surrounded by mitochondria; the principal piece (45 µm long) fibrous sheath interconnected by regularly spaced circumferential hoops; the final end piece (5 µm long) has an axonema surrounded by small amount of cytoplasm and plasma membrane.
  • spermatogonial stem cells - (SSCs) The spermatagonia cells located beside the seminiferous tubule basal membrane that either divide and separate to renew the stem cell population, or they divide and stay together as a pair (|Apr spermatogonia) connected by an intercellular cytoplasmic bridge to differentiate and eventually form spermatazoa.
  • sperm protein 56 - A component of the spermatozoa acrosomal matrix released to the sperm surface during capacitation.

External Links

External Links Notice - The dynamic nature of the internet may mean that some of these listed links may no longer function. If the link no longer works search the web with the link text or name.

  • World Health Organization - WHO Laboratory Manual for the Examination and Processing of Human Semen. 5th ed. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2010. Online PDF

Glossary Links

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z | Numbers | Symbols

Cite this page: Hill, M.A. (2015) Embryology Spermatozoa Development. Retrieved November 24, 2015, from https://embryology.med.unsw.edu.au/embryology/index.php/Spermatozoa_Development

What Links Here?
© Dr Mark Hill 2015, UNSW Embryology ISBN: 978 0 7334 2609 4 - UNSW CRICOS Provider Code No. 00098G