Article

Regulation of the motility and metabolism of spermatozoa for storage in the epididymis of eutherian and marsupial mammals

Department of Biological Sciences, University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia.
Reproduction Fertility and Development (Impact Factor: 2.58). 02/1996; 8(4):553-68. DOI: 10.1071/RD9960553
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The present review examines the mechanisms involved in sperm storage in the epididymis of therian mammals in terms of the supply of energy substrate and the regulation of motility and metabolism. Lipids, glucose, lactate and glycerol are possible metabolic substrates for sperm in the epididymis, but the role of these is uncertain and it may differ between marsupials and eutherians. Sperm are normally immotile in the epididymis, but ram and rabbit sperm may have an uncoordinated motility. Sperm metabolism is suppressed but is probably not strongly coupled to motility. Work on diluted sperm indicates that cyclic adenosine monophosphate, Ca2+, and pH play roles as intracellular messengers controlling the motility and metabolism of sperm, but no first messenger has been identified. A number of mechanisms of suppressing sperm motility and metabolism in the epididymis are considered, including a collective autoregulation, oxygen tension, osmotic pressure, viscosity and the extracellular concentration of H+, Ca2+, Na+, HCO3- and carnitine. However, there is no conclusive evidence for any of the mechanisms and there is clearly some variation between species in the mechanism of suppressing sperm activity. Sperm activation stimulates motility and a 4-5-fold increase in respiration rate that has not been reversed without compromising viability. Following activation, respiration supported by endogenous and/or exogenous substrates is much higher in marsupial than eutherian sperm, and marsupial sperm do not show a large stimulation of respiration on the addition of exogenous substrate, as is characteristic of most eutherian sperm.

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