Study of the role of epididymal α-glucosidase in the fertility of male rats by the administration of the enzyme inhibitor castanospermine

in Reproduction

The activity of epididymal α-glucosidase in adult rats was rapidly suppressed to histochemically undetectable levels within 2 days by the continuous release of the enzyme inhibitor castanospermine via a peritoneal osmotic pump at a rate of 100–200 nmol h−1. It was established that mating activities overnight depleted 72% of the spermatozoa in the distal cauda, which was replenished in 2 days, and that fertility began to decline 3 weeks after efferent duct ligation. Male rats of proven mating proficiency and fertility were treated with castanospermine, or buffered saline as control, for up to 30 days and enzyme inhibition was confirmed at the end of treatment by histochemistry. Fertility was normal at the first mating test on day 7, significantly decreased at the second mating on day 9, but recovered in a stepwise manner at subsequent matings on days 12 and 14. Delaying the third mating until day 25 did not sustain the transient subfertility. However, prolonging sperm storage in the distal cauda epididymides and preventing replenishment with freshly matured spermatozoa, by efferent duct ligation for 14 days performed on day 15 during castanospermine administration, caused a decrease in fertility and a change in the kinematics of epididymal spermatozoa of the castanospermine-treated group. In control rats, binding of epididymal spermatozoa to Vicia faba, a lectin specific for glucose and glucosamine, and mannose and mannosamine residues, decreased from the proximal caput to the distal corpus coincident with the increase in α-glucosidase activity on the epithelial brush border. Lectin binding then increased in the cauda where enzyme activity was absent. However, castanospermine treatment did not significantly alter this binding profile. The findings suggest that epididymal α-glucosidase does not play a crucial role in the development of sperm fertilizing capacity, but may be involved in the preparation of spermatozoa for storage.

 

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