Summary. The selective ability of PGE-1 and PGE-2 to enhance the capacity of human spermatozoa for hamster oocyte penetration was dependent upon high concentrations (1·7 mm) of extracellular Ca2+ and a prolonged (4 h) duration of exposure, and insensitive to the Ca2+ channel antagonist, verapamil. Studies with the intracellular calcium indicator Quin-2 indicated that exposure to PGE-1 and PGE-2, but not PGF-2α, induced a significant rise in the levels of cytoplasmic Ca2+, suggesting that an ionophore-like action might be responsible for the ability of the E-series prostaglandins to influence sperm function.
Stimulation of oocyte penetration with PGE-1 and PGE-2 was significantly enhanced when these compounds were presented to the spermatozoa in medium of high osmolarity (410 mosmol). A combination of PGE-1 in hyperosmotic medium did not significantly influence sperm function in cases of oligozoospermia, although it was effective with patients exhibiting idiopathic infertility.
Exposure to high doses of PGE-1 and PGE-2, but not 19-hydroxy PGE or PGF-2α, also induced a significant rise in the cyclic AMP content of human spermatozoa. This effect did not appear to be involved in the enhancement of fertilization rates because (1) it did not exhibit the same absolute dependence on high levels of extracellular Ca2+ as did the fertilization responses and (2) the enhancement of oocyte penetration and the elevation of cAMP were independent of each other within the patient population.
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