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J Anim Sci. 2010 Apr;88(4):1321-31. doi: 10.2527/jas.2009-2583. Epub 2009 Dec 30.

Mammalian glutathione peroxidases control acquisition and maintenance of spermatozoa integrity.

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GReD, CNRS UMR 6247-INSERM U931, Clermont Université, Aubière, France 63177.


In mammals, posttesticular epididymal sperm maturation is considered an essential step in the transformation of immature testicular gametes to mature spermatozoa capable of fertilization. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) have been shown to be key actors in this maturation process, and it is now clear that ROS are central for sperm physiology in processes such as sperm maturation and capacitation. However, during epididymal maturation and storage and until the onset of fertilization, oxidative damage is a threat spermatozoa must face more than any other cells. Spermatozoa were found to be extremely sensitive to oxidative attacks correlated with lipid peroxidation, DNA damage, and impaired sperm motility, all affecting fertilization. To control the quantity of H(2)O(2) in the vicinity of male gametes, mammalian epididymis uses a panel of nonenzymatic and enzymatic scavengers, among which the glutathione peroxidase (GPx) family is largely represented. Among the various GPx proteins expressed in the mammalian epididymis, GPx4 and GPx5 occupy unique positions and functions that are reviewed in this paper. This paper underlines the importance of the GPx protein family in determining the fertilizing potential of mammalian spermatozoa. This is particularly relevant in the field of mammalian fertility and infertility as well as in the development of assisted medical procreation technologies and male gamete preservation techniques that are extensively used in human and animal reproduction programs.

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