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Biol Reprod. 2009 Sep;81(3):553-61. doi: 10.1095/biolreprod.109.076471. Epub 2009 Apr 8.

Reactive oxygen species and boar sperm function.

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  • 1Department of Animal & Poultry Science, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.


Boar spermatozoa are very susceptible to reactive oxygen species (ROS), but ROS involvement in damage and/or capacitation is unclear. The impact of exposing fresh boar spermatozoa to an ROS-generating system (xanthine/xanthine oxidase; XA/XO) on sperm ROS content, membrane lipid peroxidation, phospholipase (PL) A activity, and motility, viability, and capacitation was contrasted to ROS content and sperm function after cryopreservation. Exposing boar sperm (n = 4-5 ejaculates) to the ROS-generating system for 30 min rapidly increased hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and lipid peroxidation in all sperm, increased PLA in dead sperm, and did not affect intracellular O2- (flow cytometry of sperm labeled with 2',7'-dichlorodihydrofluorscein diacetate, BODIPY 581/591 C11, bis-BODIPY-FL C11, hydroethidine, respectively; counterstained for viability). Sperm viability remained high, but sperm became immotile. Cryopreservation decreased sperm motility, viability, and intracellular O2- significantly, but did not affect H2O2. As expected, more sperm incubated in capacitating media than Beltsville thawing solution buffer underwent acrosome reactions and protein tyrosine phosphorylation (four proteins, 58-174 kDa); which proteins were tyrosine phosphorylated was pH dependent. Pre-exposing sperm to the ROS-generating system increased the percentage of sperm that underwent acrosome reactions after incubation in capacitating conditions (P < 0.025), and decreased capacitation-dependent increases in two tyrosine-phosphorylated proteins (P < or = 0.035). In summary, H2O2 is the major free radical mediating direct ROS effects, but not cryopreservation changes, on boar sperm. Boar sperm motility, acrosome integrity, and lipid peroxidation are more sensitive indicators of oxidative stress than viability and PLA activity. ROS may stimulate the acrosome reaction in boar sperm through membrane lipid peroxidation and PLA activation.

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