Reproduction, Fertility and Development Reproduction, Fertility and Development Society
Vertebrate reproductive science and technology

Derivation and reliability of kinematic measures of sperm motion

RO Davis and RJ Siemers

Reproduction, Fertility and Development 7(4) 857 - 869
Published: 1995


Studies of sperm movement are relevant in the diagnosis of sperm function and in investigations of cellular biology. Such studies have been traditionally performed by analysing the kinematics of the flagellum or the head. Analysis of the flagellum can provide insights into the cell biological mechanisms responsible for the control of movement. However, the mathematical correspondence between head kinematics and flagellum kinematics is not unique. Therefore, it is not possible to use head kinematics to obtain detailed insights into cell mechanisms or physiology. The accuracy and precision of kinematic measurements are limited by a number of technical and biological factors. Therefore, the interpretation of kinematic data is dependent on a thorough understanding of the assumptions and conditions underlying the analysis. Evaluation of the reliability of kinematic measurements has suffered because no absolute standard for measurement has existed. The development and application of a new standard based on images which were simulated using the equations of motion is described. Because the kinematics of these images are known prior to empirical measurement, the performance of different methods can be determined absolutely. Some kinematic measures are unreliable because they are inappropriate analogues for engineering concepts. The development and use of appropriate engineering measures for the frequency and amplitude of sperm motion is also described. Some types of sperm motion cannot be analysed using kinematic measures (e.g. hyperactivated movement). The concept of the fractal dimension as a more accurate measurement for such motions is introduced. It is concluded that kinematic measurements of sperm motion can provide valuable information about cell biological mechanisms (in the case of the flagellum) and about general membrane and axoneme function (in the case of the head) when the measurements are made under the appropriate conditions, when standard techniques are followed, and when the assumptions underlying the analysis are well understood.

© CSIRO 1995

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