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J Reprod Fertil. 1987 Sep;81(1):77-89.

Minimum and maximum extracellular Ca2+ requirements during mouse sperm capacitation and fertilization in vitro.

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Department of Anatomy and Human Biology, King's College London (KQC), Strand, U.K.


The minimum and maximum extracellular Ca2+ concentrations required to promote capacitation, the acrosome reaction, hyperactivated motility, zona penetration and gamete fusion in the mouse have been established. The traces of free calcium in Ca2+-deficient medium were shown not to enhance capacitation since the inclusion of EGTA to chelate free ions during a 120 min preincubation failed to alter the kinetics of capacitation from those observed in the absence of EGTA; 1 h after addition of 1.80 mM-Ca2+, both suspensions were highly fertile. Complete capacitation, when suspensions were immediately functional upon the addition of 1.80 mM-Ca2+, required the presence of greater than or equal to 90 microM-Ca2. Considerably higher concentrations were required to initiate optimal sperm responses: acrosome reaction, 900 microM; gamete fusion, 900 microM; hyperactivated motility, 1.80 mM; zona penetration, 1.80 mM. None of these changes was effected when Ca2+ was less than 450 microM. The responses to elevated Ca2+ were dependent on the length of incubation, being initially positive and then negative. A short (30 min) exposure to 3.40 mM-Ca2+ (x 2 the standard) accelerated capacitation, as evidenced by significantly increased acrosome loss, precocious expression of hyperactivated motility and enhanced fertilizing ability when Ca2+ was reduced to 1.80 mM. However, extended (120 min) preincubation irreversibly damaged sperm function. In the presence of 7.20 mM-Ca2+ (x 4), fertilizing ability was inhibited at both 30 and 120 min, despite a high incidence of acrosome loss. The primary deleterious effect appeared to be on motility which was judged to be more erratic than in 1.80 mM-Ca2+, possibly due to elevated intracellular Ca2+. Because of the considerable difference in threshold Ca2+ concentrations, it is now possible to dissociate the Ca2+-dependent events of capacitation from those of the acrosome reaction and motility changes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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