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Int J Androl. 2010 Jun 1;33(3):554-62. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2605.2009.00971.x. Epub 2009 Jun 15.

Insulin and IR-beta in pig spermatozoa: a role of the hormone in the acquisition of fertilizing ability.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology, University of Calabria, Arcavacata di Rende, Cosenza, Italy.


Recent studies have revealed that insulin, the main regulator of the glucose homeostasis in somatic cells, is expressed in human spermatozoa which are also able to secrete it. This study investigated the expression of insulin and insulin receptor beta in pig spermatozoa, at immunohistochemical protein and mRNA level. The immunofluorescence assay revealed that insulin and its receptor were co-localized in the sperm midpiece, while insulin was also detected in the acrosomal region. Western blot evidenced a 36 kDa band for insulin and a 95 kDa band for insulin receptor, such as reported in somatic cells. In addition, both insulin and insulin receptor transcripts were detected in pig spermatozoa. Interestingly, a possible biological role of the hormone was evidenced during pig sperm capacitation and acrosome reaction. In fact, the results showed that insulin (0.01 and 0.1 nm) can induce both the activities. A possible autocrine short loop of insulin in pig spermatozoa was suggested by the evaluation of the hormone secretion in both uncapacitated and capacitated spermatozoa. Furthermore, spontaneous sperm capacitation and acrosome reaction were stimulated by glucose and inhibited by the blockage of insulin release (nifedipine). In conclusion, this work has firstly demonstrated the expression of insulin and of its receptor, as well as the insulin secretion by pig spermatozoa, thereby suggesting an unexpected significance of the hormone in the acquisition of the male gamete fertilizing ability.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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