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Free Radic Biol Med. 2000 Sep 15;29(6):522-36.

Nitric oxide interacts with the cAMP pathway to modulate capacitation of human spermatozoa.

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Urology Research Laboratory, Royal Victoria Hospital, McGill University, Montréal, Canada.


This study aimed to demonstrate nitric oxide production by human spermatozoa and to characterize the interaction between nitric oxide and cAMP-related pathway in the control of human sperm capacitation and protein tyrosine phosphorylation. Spermatozoa were incubated in Tyrode's medium with or without bovine serum albumin (BSA), and nitric oxide was measured with the spin trap sodium N-methyl-D-glucamine dithiocarbamate. Under noncapacitating conditions, spermatozoa produced low levels of nitric oxide. However, under capacitating conditions, prominent nitric oxide adduct signals were obtained and a time-dependent increase of nitric oxide production was observed. When spermatozoa were incubated in Tyrode+BSA medium with nitric oxide-releasing compounds, intracellular cAMP concentrations increased to levels higher than those of spermatozoa incubated in Tyrode+BSA alone. In contrast, incubation with nitric oxide synthase inhibitors (N(G)-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester or N(G)-monomethyl L-arginine) decreased intracellular sperm cAMP concentrations. The inhibitory effect observed with N(G)-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester on capacitation and tyrosine phosphorylation of two sperm proteins (105, 81 kDa) was overcome by the presence of cAMP analogs or of a phosphodiesterase inhibitor. These results indicate that nitric oxide is produced by capacitating human spermatozoa and that it may act as a cellular messenger by modulating the cAMP pathway involved in capacitation and protein tyrosine phosphorylation.

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