Curvature in the reproductive tract alters sperm–surface interactions

Mohammad Reza Raveshi, Melati S. Abdul Halim, Sagar N. Agnihotri, Moira K. O’Bryan, Adrian Neild, Reza Nosrati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


The fallopian tube is lined with a highly complex folded epithelium surrounding a lumen that progressively narrows. To study the influence of this labyrinthine complexity on sperm behavior, we use droplet microfluidics to create soft curved interfaces over a range of curvatures corresponding to the in vivo environment. We reveal a dynamic response mechanism in sperm, switching from a progressive surface-aligned motility mode at low curvatures (larger droplets), to an aggressive surface-attacking mode at high curvatures (smaller droplets of <50 µm-radius). We show that sperm in the attacking mode swim ~33% slower, spend 1.66-fold longer at the interface and have a 66% lower beating amplitude than in the progressive mode. These findings demonstrate that surface curvature within the fallopian tube alters sperm motion from a faster surface aligned locomotion in distal regions to a prolonged physical contact with the epithelium near the site of fertilization, the latter being known to promote capacitation and fertilization competence.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3446
Number of pages10
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jun 2021

Cite this