The effects of the male antifertility agent ornidazole on glycolysis as a prerequisite for fertilization were investigated in rats. Antifertility doses of ornidazole inhibited glycolysis within mature spermatozoa as determined from the lack of glucose utilization, reduced acidosis under anaerobic conditions and reduced glycolytic enzyme activity. As a consequence, cauda epididymidal spermatozoa from ornidazole-fed rats were unable to fertilize rat oocytes in vitro, with or without cumulus cells, which was not due to transfer of an inhibitor in epididymal fluid with the spermatozoa. Under IVF conditions, binding to the zona pellucida was reduced in spermatozoa from ornidazole-fed males and the spermatozoa did not undergo a change in swimming pattern, which was observed in controls. The block to fertilization could be explained by the disruption of glycolysis-dependent events, since reduced binding to the zona pellucida and a lack of kinematic changes were demonstrated by control spermatozoa in glucose-free media in the presence of respiratory substrates. The importance of glycolysis for binding to, and penetration of, the zona pellucida, and hyperactivation in rats is discussed in relation to the glycolytic production of ATP in the principal piece in which local deprivation of energy may explain the reduced force of spermatozoa from ornidazole-fed males.
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