A study has been made of the effects of potassium, magnesium, calcium and phosphate ions and their possible inter-relationships on the metabolism of bull, dog, rabbit and fowl spermatozoa. Respiration and fructolysis were measured and isotopically labelled fructose used to assess the contribution of fructose oxidation to total oxygen uptake.
Overall, fowl spermatozoa had the lowest rate of metabolism. Dog spermatozoa had the greatest respiratory activity and differences in oxygen uptake between the mammalian species were due mainly to variations in the rate of fructose oxidation. Washing bull, dog and rabbit spermatozoa greatly reduced the oxidation of substrates other than fructose, but washing had little effect in the fowl.
In general, phosphate ions depressed the respiration of bull spermatozoa, but stimulated their aerobic fructolysis. Except for stimulating the respiration of unwashed dog spermatozoa, phosphate had no important influence on metabolism in the other species. Potassium stimulated some aspects of metabolism in all species, but had its greatest effect upon the respiration of dog spermatozoa. Magnesium depressed the respiration of bull and fowl spermatozoa, but calcium was without effect. There were few significant interactions between the ions tested.
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