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Microsc Res Tech. 2009 Nov;72(11):878-88. doi: 10.1002/jemt.20732.

Impact of caspase activation in human spermatozoa.

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Department of Dermatology/Andrology Unit, University of Leipzig, 04103 Leipzig, Germany.


Caspases are central components in the apoptosis signaling cascade. The family of cysteine proteases transduces and enhances the apoptosis signal, and activation of effector caspases results in controlled cellular degradation. Although initially the presence of caspases in spermatozoa was controversially discussed in recent years, many studies demonstrated their activation in male germ cells. Activated apoptosis signaling results in decreased fertilizing capacity of the sperm. This review presents the current knowledge on the role of caspases in human sperm. Techniques of caspase monitoring are highlighted. With regard to the high impact of caspases on the sperm fertilizing potential, physiological and pathological settings of caspase activation and inactivation are discussed. Finally, the effects of depletion of caspase-positive sperm are shown with various standard and molecular sperm preparation methods.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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