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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2004 Sep 24;1674(2):215-21.

L-arginine promotes capacitation and acrosome reaction in cryopreserved bovine spermatozoa.

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Biochemistry Area, School of Veterinary Sciences, University of Buenos Aires, Av. ChorroarĂ­n 280 (C1427CWO) Buenos Aires, Argentina.


Sperm capacitation and acrosome reaction are essential for fertilization and they are considered as part of an oxidative process involving superoxide and hydrogen peroxide. In human spermatozoa, the amino acid L-arginine is a substrate for the nitric oxide synthase (NOS) producing nitric oxide (NO*), a reactive molecule that participates in capacitation as well as in acrosome reaction. L-arginine plays an important role in the physiology of spermatozoa and has been shown to enhance their metabolism and maintain their motility. Moreover, L-arginine has a protective effect on spermatozoa against the sperm plasma membrane lipid peroxidation. In this paper, we have presented, for the first time, the effect of L-arginine on cryopreserved bovine sperm capacitation and acrosome reaction and the possible participation of NOS in both processes. Frozen-thawed bovine spermatozoa have been incubated in TALP medium with different concentrations of L-arginine and the percentages of capacitated and acrosome reacted spermatozoa have been determined. L-arginine induced both capacitation and acrosome reaction. NO* produced by L-arginine has been inhibited or inactivated using NOS inhibitors or NO* scavengers in the incubation medium, respectively. Thus, the effect of NOS inhibitors and NO* scavengers in capacitated and non-capacitated spermatozoa treated with L-arginine has also been monitored. The data presented suggest the participation of NO*, produced by a sperm NOS, in cryopreseved bovine sperm capacitation and acrosome reaction.

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