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Human sperm acrosomal status, acrosomal responsiveness, and acrosin are predictive of the outcomes of in vitro fertilization: A prospective cohort study

Xu, Fang, Zhu, Hailun, Zhu, Wenbing, Fan, Liqing
Reproductive Biology 2018 v.18 no.4 pp. 344-354
acrosin, acrosome, acrosome reaction, calcium ionophores, cohort studies, confidence interval, eggs, enzyme activity, humans, intracytoplasmic sperm injection, male fertility, males, membrane fusion, men, odds ratio, patients, prediction, sperm motility, therapeutics
The sperm acrosome reaction (AR) is a physiological secretory course of membrane fusion and hydrolytic enzymes, as well as matrix protein release, enabling spermatozoa to penetrate the egg surroundings. An instable acrosomal status before a specific stimulus, insufficient acrosomal responsiveness, or inadequate enzymatic activity of acrosomal content can be detrimental to male fertility. This prospective cohort study was designed to determine whether three human sperm acrosome evaluation parameters—including spontaneous AR rate, AR after calcium ionophore A23187 challenge (ARIC) rate, and modified Kennedy acrosin activity—can predict fertilization outcomes in vitro and are correlated with male characteristics. A total of 485 eligible couples undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) therapy were included in two phases of this study. In a ‘construction phase’, three acrosome evaluation parameters were determined simultaneously in 132 cases, whereas in a ‘validation phase’, the spontaneous AR rate was determined in 353 cases. The results of the ‘construction phase’ revealed that the spontaneous AR rate was the only significant predictor of fertilization outcome (unadjusted odds ratio [OR] = 0.68, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.53–0.88, P = 0.003; adjusted OR = 0.64, 95% CI: 0.43–0.95, P = 0.03), and the cut-off value for total fertilization failure (TFF) prediction, determined by ROC curve analysis, was 9.91%; higher acrosin activity was shown to predict a higher fertilization rate only when patients were divided into groups (≥25 μIU/106 spermatozoa, 14–25 μIU/106 spermatozoa, <14 μIU/106 spermatozoa). The spontaneous AR rate was negatively correlated with sperm motility, forward progression motility, and normal morphology; modified Kennedy acrosin activity was positively correlated with normal morphology; and the ARIC rate was not correlated with any of the male characteristics. A similar result was obtained for the spontaneous AR rate in the ‘validation phase’, and the cut-off value in predicting TFF was calibrated for 9.52%. Clinically, patients can voluntarily choose spontaneous AR rate alone or in combination with modified Kennedy acrosin activity to predict TFF, and early rescue intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), half ICSI, or full ICSI should be considered in advance for men with spontaneous AR rates ≥9.52% or spontaneous AR rates ≥9.52% and AE activities <25 μIU/106 spermatozoa.