Motile sperm organelle morphology examination (MSOME) and sperm head vacuoles: state of the art in 2013

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Approximately 10 years after the first publication introducing the motile sperm organelle morphology examination (MSOME), many questions remained about sperm vacuoles: frequency, size, localization, mode of occurrence, biological significance and impact on male fertility potential. Many studies have tried to characterize sperm vacuoles, to determine the sperm abnormalities possibly associated with vacuoles, to test the diagnostic value of MSOME for male infertility or to question the benefits of intracytoplasmic morphologically selected sperm injection (IMSI).


We searched PubMed for articles in the English language published in 2001–2012 regarding human sperm head vacuoles, MSOME and IMSI.


A bibliographic analysis revealed consensus for the following findings: (i) sperm vacuoles appeared frequently, often multiple and preferentially anterior; (ii) sperm vacuoles and sperm chromatin immaturity have been associated, particularly in the case of large vacuoles; (iii) teratozoospermia was a preferred indication of MSOME and IMSI.


The high-magnification system appears to be a powerful method to improve our understanding of human spermatozoa. However, its clinical use remains unclear in the fields of male infertility diagnosis and assisted reproduction techniques (ARTs).

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