Author(s): Lefivre L, De Lamirande E, Gagnon C
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Abstract Capacitation is the series of transformations that spermatozoa undergo in the female genital tract in order to bind to the zona pellucida, initiate the acrosome reaction, and fertilize an egg. Cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) plays an important role in this process and its levels are regulated by 2 key enzymes, adenylyl cyclase and cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterase (PDE), the latter being involved in cAMP degradation. Evidence was provided for the involvement of PDE in sperm motility and capacitation. Of the 10 gene families of PDE that exist in mammalian tissues, the calcium-calmodulin-dependent (type 1) and the cAMP-specific (type 4) have been found in human spermatozoa. Using sildenafil, we investigated a highly potent cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP)-specific PDE (type 5) inhibitor and whether this PDE is present in human spermatozoa and is involved in sperm functions. Sildenafil inhibited PDE activity of Percoll-washed spermatozoa with an IC50 of 97+/-3 and 33+/-3 microM when cAMP and cGMP, respectively, were used as substrates. Because the IC50 of sildenafil obtained for PDE type 5 is much lower (2 to 6 nM) than that obtained with sperm PDE, the data suggest that PDE type 5 represents only a small fraction of the whole PDE activity of spermatozoa. Sildenafil causes dose-dependent increases in sperm cAMP levels and capacitation, which are associated with an increase in the levels of tyrosine phosphorylation of 2 fibrous sheath proteins (p105/81). Sperm velocity, amplitude of lateral head displacement, and hyperactivation were increased at 30-180 minutes. Sildenafil did not trigger the acrosome reaction in capacitated spermatozoa. These results suggest that under our experimental conditions, sildenafil triggers human sperm motility and capacitation, probably via its inhibitory action on PDE activity other than type 5 with a resultant rise in cAMP levels.
This article was published in J Androl
and referenced in Andrology-Open Access