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Mol Hum Reprod. 1996 Oct;2(10):733-8.

Effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid on human sperm motility and hyperactivation.

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First Department of Internal Medicine, University of Catania Medical School, Italy.


This study was undertaken to evaluate the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and GABAergic agonists and antagonists on sperm kinematic parameters and hyperactivation, evaluated by a computer-assisted semen analysis (CASA) system, and intracellular cAMP content in 22 normozoospermic semen samples. Because of the possible interaction of progesterone with the GABAA receptor, we also evaluated the effects of progesterone on these parameters. GABA increased beat cross frequency, curvilinear velocity (VCL), the percentage of spermatozoa moving with an average path velocity > 10 microns/s (active) and hyperactivation, and decreased linearity and straightness. Bicuculline, a GABAA receptor antagonist, antagonized the effects of GABA on all these parameters except the percentage of active spermatozoa. Muscimol, a GABAA receptor agonist, increased VCL, the percentage of active spermatozoa, and hyperactivation by about the same extent as GABA, suggesting the involvement of the GABAA receptor. However, the GABAB receptor also seems to mediate some of the effects of GABA, because baclofen, a selective agonist for this receptor, increased significantly the percentage of active spermatozoa and hyperactivation. The effect of baclofen on this latter parameter was, however, less pronounced than that obtained with GABA or muscimol. Progesterone had the same effects as GABA on sperm kinematic parameters and hyperactivation and the simultaneous presence of both compounds was not more effective than each single one. GABA and progesterone did not have any effect on intracellular cAMP content. In conclusion, GABA modulated sperm kinematic parameters and increased hyperactivation. These effects have the same magnitude of those produced by progesterone and seem to be mediated mainly by the GABAA receptor. We speculate that GABA may be a physiological regulator of sperm function.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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