The activating effects of bicarbonate on sperm motility and respiration at ejaculation. Biochim
Mature porcine sperm preserved in the cauda epididymis are quiescent. At ejaculation, they are mixed with the seminal vesicle fluid containing HCO3- and are rapidly activated. The role of HCO3- on the sperm activation process at ejaculation was studied in vitro. HCO3- quickly increased the motility, respiration rate and cAMP content of the porcine epididymal sperm. The extent of activation was proportional to the pCO2 in the medium. The activating effect of HCO3- on the motility was observed even in the absence of fructose as well as in the presence of KCN. 8-Bromoadenosine 3',5'-cyclic monophosphate and theophylline showed similar activating effects to that of HCO3-. However, HCO3(-)-free seminal plasma, Ca2+, amino acids, intermediates of the Krebs cycle, substrates of respiration and increases in the intracellular pH, extracellular pH or ionic strength of the medium had no effect. Fructose sustained the active state of the sperm and gradually increased both the motility and respiration rate when the dose of HCO3- was low. The anion channel blocker enhanced the activating effect of HCO3-. These results suggest that, upon ejaculation, HCO3- is a unique activator in vivo which makes the quiescent sperm motile via the HCO3(-)-adenylate cyclase-cAMP system, to which an endogenous HCO3- derived from metabolic CO2 may be related.
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