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Mol Reprod Dev. 1998 Apr;49(4):400-7.

Human sperm glutathione reductase activity in situ reveals limitation in the glutathione antioxidant defense system due to supply of NADPH.

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Center for Research on Reproduction and Women's Health, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia 19104-6080, USA.


In order to characterize further the antilipoperoxidative enzyme system of human sperm, that part of the system designed to provide reducing equivalents for the reduction of highly reactive and potentially damaging lipid hydroperoxides to relatively inert hydroxylipids was examined. The substrate that provides the reducing equivalents directly to glutathione peroxidase (GPX) is reduced glutathione (GSH), which is in turn oxidized to glutathione disulfide (GSSG). The reducing equivalents needed for regeneration of GSH through the action of glutathione reductase (GRD) are provided by NADPH, produced by the action of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6P-DH) on substrates glucose-6-phosphate and NADP+. The kinetic properties of the enzymes GRD and G6P-DH were determined by standard enzyme activity assay at 24 and 37 degrees C. At 37 degrees C, the Vmax for GRD was found to be 36 nmol/min x 10(8) cells, with Km values for GSSG and NAPH of 150 microM and 16 microM, respectively; the Vmax for G6P-DH was 3.3 nmol/min x 10(8) cells with Km for NADP+ of 8 microM. This suggested that G6P-DH activity was limiting in this reductive pathway. The activity of GRD in situ in intact cells was estimated using the thiol-reactive fluorogenic probe ThioGlo-1, which is cell permeant and reacts rapidly with GSH to give a highly fluorescent adduct. Mixing a suspension of human sperm with the fluorogenic reagent at 37 degrees C gave an initial rapid increase in fluorescence, followed by a slower one. The rapid phase is due to reaction with intracellular GSH already present; the slow phase is due to reaction with GSH generated by the GRD-catalyzed reduction of GSSG. Both rates showed first-order kinetics. Calculation of the maximal rate as NADPH oxidation, attributable to in situ GRD activity, gave the value of 1.0 nmol/min x 10(8) cells, less than the maximum for NADPH production by the dehydrogenase. These results support the suggestion that NADPH production limits the capacity of the pathway leading to hydroperoxide reduction in human sperm. We propose that the antilipoperoxidative defense system of human sperm has just sufficient capacity to allow these cells to fulfill their function but is limited to allow their timely disposal from the female reproductive tract.

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