Reproduction, Fertility and Development Reproduction, Fertility and Development Society
Vertebrate reproductive science and technology
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Mitochondrial activity and forward scatter vary in necrotic, apoptotic and membrane-intact spermatozoan subpopulations

F. Martínez-Pastor A B C , M. R. Fernández-Santos A B , E. del Olmo A B , A. E. Domínguez-Rebolledo A B , M. C. Esteso A B , V. Montoro A and J. J. Garde A B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Biology of Reproduction Group, National Wildlife Research Institute (IREC), Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), University of Castilla-La Mancha (UCLM), Regional Government of Castilla-La Mancha (JCCM), Albacete 02071, Spain.

B Institute for Regional Development, University of Castilla-La Mancha (UCLM), Albacete 02071, Spain.

C Corresponding author. Email: felipe.martinez@uclm.es

Reproduction, Fertility and Development 20(5) 547-556 https://doi.org/10.1071/RD08002
Submitted: 1 January 2008  Accepted: 4 March 2008   Published: 28 April 2008

Abstract

In the present study, we have related mitochondrial membrane potential (ΔΨm) and forward scatter (FSC) to apoptotic-related changes in spermatozoa. Thawed red deer spermatozoa were incubated in synthetic oviductal fluid medium (37°C, 5% CO2), with or without antioxidant (100 μm Trolox). At 0, 3, 6 and 9 h, aliquots were assessed for motility and were stained with a combination of Hoechst 33342, propidium ioide (PI), YO-PRO-1 and Mitotracker Deep Red for flow cytometry. The proportion of spermatozoa YO-PRO-1+ and PI+ (indicating a damaged plasmalemma; DEAD) increased, whereas that of YO-PRO-1– and PI– (INTACT) spermatozoa decreased. The proportion of YO-PRO-1+ and PI– spermatozoa (altered plasmalemma; APOPTOTIC) did not change. Both DEAD and APOPTOTIC spermatozoa had low ΔΨm. Most high-ΔΨm spermatozoa were INTACT, and their proportion decreased with time. The FSC signal also differed between different groups of spermatozoa, in the order APOPTOTIC > DEAD > INTACT/low ΔΨm > INTACT/high ΔΨm; however, the actual meaning of this difference is not clear. APOPTOTIC spermatozoa seemed motile at 0 h, but lost motility with time. Trolox only slightly improved the percentage of INTACT spermatozoa (P < 0.05). The population of APOPTOTIC spermatozoa in the present study may be dying cells, possibly with activated cell death pathways (loss of ΔΨm). We propose that the sequence of spermatozoon death here would be: (1) loss of ΔΨm; (2) membrane changes (YO-PRO-1+ and PI–); and (3) membrane damage (PI+). INTACT spermatozoa with low ΔΨm or altered FSC may be compromised cells. The present study is the first that directly relates membrane integrity, apoptotic markers and mitochondrial status in spermatozoa. The results of the present study may help us understand the mechanisms leading to loss of spermatozoon viability after thawing.

Additional keywords: cell volume, flow cytometry, membrane changes, mitochondrial membrane potential, sperm death, YO-PRO-1.


Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science (Projects AGL2004–05904/GAN and AGL2007–60271/GAN) and by the Education and Science Council of Junta de Comunidades de Castilla-La Mancha (PAC06–047). Felipe Martínez-Pastor was supported by the Juan de la Cierva program (Spanish Ministry of Education and Science). The authors thank Juan F. Llopis, Juani Ronzal and the Regional Center for Biomedical Research (UCLM; Albacete, Spain) for providing the flow cytometry equipment and assistance.


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