Volume 34, Issue 3 (May 1989)
A Demonstration of Spermatozoa on Vaginal Swabs after Complete Destruction of the Vaginal Cell Deposits
The proteolytic enzyme, proteinase K, has been found to destroy all vaginal cells though it does not have the same effect on spermatozoa. In cases of sexual offenses, in which a swab has been used to wipe out the vagina, the female cells and their nuclei on that swab may also contain the heads of spermatozoa. After as short a time as 30 min of proteinase K treatment, the spermatozoa that had separated from the enzymatically destroyed vaginal cells were recovered. This proteinase destruction furnishes some spermatozoa with deformed heads and a somewhat greater number of isolated tails though a sufficient number of spermatozoan heads still remain for a reliable diagnosis. For detection of spermatozoa from a vaginal swab after proteinase K pretreatment, the heads of the spermatozoa are distinctly stained by Oppitz's method. Further, on prior treatment with proteinase K, the ABO blood grouping of the spermatozoa could also be determined on the vaginal swab by using the absorption-elution technique. The resistance of the spermatozoa to proteinase K is the basis for this method.