Author(s): Vernet P, Aitken RJ, Drevet JR, Vernet P, Aitken RJ, Drevet JR
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Abstract Spermatozoa are very specialized cells, dedicated to fertilization of the oocyte. The attainment of this biological role is partly due to the fusogenic properties of the sperm plasma membrane, which is particularly rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). This predominance of PUFA renders spermatozoa highly susceptible to lipid peroxidation due to attacks from reactive oxygen species (ROS). These attacks ultimately lead to the impairment of sperm function through oxidative stress. Despite such disruptive effects, it should be also emphasized that these molecules also play an important positive, physiological role in the regulation of sperm physiology through their participation in apoptosis and the signal transduction cascades that control sperm maturation and capacitation. In this article, the different sources of ROS are examined and then the antioxidant strategies that protect these cells during epididymal transit are reviewed. While the major focus is on the involvement of glutathione peroxidase in this process, consideration will also be given to a range of additional antioxidant enzymes (catalase, indolamine dioxygenase and superoxide dismutase) that have evolved to protect spermatozoa during this extremely vulnerable phase in their life history. Besides the classical enzymatic roles of these enzymes in recycling ROS, additional features are discussed in the light of contraceptive development.
This article was published in Mol Cell Endocrinol
and referenced in Journal of AIDS & Clinical Research