Date of Award

Summer 1986

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Chemistry & Biochemistry



Committee Director

Patricia A. Pleban

Committee Member

Anibal A. Acosta

Committee Member

Steve Ackerman

Committee Member

James H. Yuan

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.C45H36


Acrosin is an acrosomal enzyme which is reported to be involved in sperm penetration through cumulus, zona, and ooplasma. This enzyme has been reported to be significantly lower in sperm of infertile men compared to sperm of fertile men. The acrosin assay which has been developed can be used for studies in patients with suspected infertility and may be used on a fraction of most semen specimens being evaluated in a clinical andrology laboratory.

Within-run precision studies yielded coefficients of variation of 11% for a low-activity pool and 9% for normalactivity pool specimens. Between-run precision studies using a single donor over an 8 week period yielded a coefficient of variation of 9%. Sperm separated from seminal plasma was stored at -20 °c for 7 days without any significant loss of acrosin activity.

A significant difference was found between mean total acrosin activities of sperm from normospermic vs. abnormospermic specimens. Comparisons were made for mean acrosin activities of the control ( normospermic ) group and 6 subgroups of abnormospermic specimens having various semen parameter abnormalities: oligozoospermia, asthenozoospermia, oligo-asthenozoospermia, oligo-asthenoteratozoospermia, globozoospermia, and polyzoospermia. The mean acrosin activities of sperm from each of these subgroups, except oligozoospermic and oligoasthenozoospermic groups, were significantly lower than the mean acrosin activity of normosperrnic specimens.

The assay had a predictive value of 88%, a specificity of 88%, and a sensitivity of predicting sperm performance in the Hamster Ova Penetration Assay.

It was apparent from this study that human sperm acrosin activity can be measured with adequate precision to be useful in clinical diagnosis of male infertility.


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