This study was based on the assumption that steroid hormones present in the female genital tract may have a rapid effect on ram spermatozoa by interaction with specific surface receptors. We demonstrate the presence of progesterone (PR) and estrogen (ER) receptors in ram spermatozoa, their localization changes during in vitro capacitation and the actions of progesterone (P4) and 17β-estradiol (E2) on ram sperm functionality. Immunolocalization assays revealed the presence of PR mainly at the equatorial region of ram spermatozoa. Western blot analyses showed three bands in ram sperm protein extracts of 40–45 kDa, compatible with those reported for PR in the human sperm membrane, and both classical estrogen receptors (66 kDa, ERα and 55 kDa, ERβ). ERα was located in the postacrosomal region of all the spermatozoa and ERβ on the apical region of 63.7% of the cells. The presence of ERβ was correlated with the percentage of non-capacitated spermatozoa evaluated by chlortetracycline staining (R = 0.848, P < 0.001). This significantly decreased after in vitro capacitation and nearly disappeared when acrosome reaction was induced. The addition of P4 and E2 before in vitro capacitation resulted in a higher (P < 0.001) acrosome-reacted sperm rate compared with the control (13.0%), noticeably greater after 3 h and when added to a high-cAMP medium (37.3% and 47.0% with E2 and P4, respectively). In conclusion, the results of this study demonstrate for the first time that ovine spermatozoa have progesterone and estrogen receptors and that both steroid hormones are related with the induction of the acrosome reaction.
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- Author: M González-Arto x
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