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Reproduction. 2013 Oct 1;146(5):R163-74. doi: 10.1530/REP-13-0178. Print 2013.

Mitochondria functionality and sperm quality.

Author information

1
Biology of Reproduction and Stem Cell Group, CNC - Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal.

Abstract

Although mitochondria are best known for being the eukaryotic cell powerhouses, these organelles participate in various cellular functions besides ATP production, such as calcium homoeostasis, generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), the intrinsic apoptotic pathway and steroid hormone biosynthesis. The aim of this review was to discuss the putative roles of mitochondria in mammalian sperm function and how they may relate to sperm quality and fertilisation ability, particularly in humans. Although paternal mitochondria are degraded inside the zygote, sperm mitochondrial functionality seems to be critical for fertilisation. Indeed, changes in mitochondrial integrity/functionality, namely defects in mitochondrial ultrastructure or in the mitochondrial genome, transcriptome or proteome, as well as low mitochondrial membrane potential or altered oxygen consumption, have been correlated with loss of sperm function (particularly with decreased motility). Results from genetically engineered mouse models also confirmed this trend. On the other hand, increasing evidence suggests that mitochondria derived ATP is not crucial for sperm motility and that glycolysis may be the main ATP supplier for this particular aspect of sperm function. However, there are contradictory data in the literature regarding sperm bioenergetics. The relevance of sperm mitochondria may thus be associated with their role in other physiological features, particularly with the production of ROS, which in controlled levels are needed for proper sperm function. Sperm mitochondria may also serve as intracellular Ca²⁺ stores, although their role in signalling is still unclear.

PMID:
23901129
DOI:
10.1530/REP-13-0178
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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