are male and female sperm immunologically distinguishable?

Jorg Kirberg kirberg at
Thu Jul 11 13:02:52 EST 1996

In article <M_Doherty-1107960941210001 at>,
M_Doherty at (M. Doherty) wrote:

> In article <4s263a$9ii at>, xyzzyx at (xyzzyx) wrote:
> > Is it possible to distinguish a male sperm from a female sperm,
> immunologically?
> No - Only male cells will display the (male specific) H-Y antigen, but
> this is apparently not expressed in sperm.
> There is an easier way however.  If you can see a sperm, you can safely
> assume it is male, since females don't make sperm - they make eggs  :-)
> If on the other hand, you mean whether the sperm carries an X chromosome
> (thus giving rise to a girl) or a Y (giving rise to a boy) the way it is
> currently done is to allow  several egges to be fertilised, grow into a 16
> or 32 cell embryo and extract a couple of cells for genotyping.
Actually, if you simply want to know wether it's a 'female or male' sperm
(it should more correctly read whether the sperm carries a X or Y chomosome)
this is (most amazingly) possible with flow cytometry - although
probably not all machines. Just have a look in Nature/Science/Immunology
Today, there were some time ago some advertisments from a cytometer
producing company (that was formerly called 'partec' if I am right).
They show a DNA staining of Bull sperm. You clearly see two peaks due
to the fact that the X chromosome is somewhat bigger than the Y. And
remember, this difference is resolved in the background of all the other
chromosomes. Quite amazing.

If one could get a good 'live stain', that would be the way to define
the sex beforehand - hopefully nobody ever does this in humans !


kirberg at

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