Expression of progesterone receptor (PR) localization on spermatozoa was determined in men with normal and abnormal spermiograms. Studies were also carried out to evaluate the potential of PR as a marker of sperm function. Progesterone receptor expression on spermatozoa from men with normozoospermia (n = 8), oligozoospermia (n = 7), asthenozoospermia (n = 8), oligoasthenozoospermia (n = 7), and teratozoospermia (n = 11) was analyzed using an immunocytochemical method with monoclonal antibodies against PR, and flow cytometry using a cell-impermeable fluorescein-tagged progesterone coupled to BSA complex (P-FITC-BSA). Both methods revealed significantly fewer (P < 0.05) PR-positive spermatozoa in men with oligozoospermia, asthenozoospermia, oligoasthenozoospermia, and teratozoospermia compared with men with normozoospermia, thereby suggesting that down-regulation of PR expression in spermatozoa may be one of the causes of male infertility. Spermatozoa from men with normozoospermia (n = 12), oligozoospermia (n = 12), asthenozoospermia (n = 12), oligoasthenozoospermia (n = 9), and teratozoospermia (n = 10) were exposed to low osmotic conditions in the hypoosmotic swelling (HOS) test and then analyzed for PR expression using P-FITC-BSA complex. A significantly higher percentage (P < 0.05) of spermatozoa with physiologically active plasma membrane (HOS ) lacked PR expression (HOS PR−) in all categories of men with infertility, thereby suggesting that compared to the HOS test, PR expression is a better indicator of sperm function. Furthermore, PR expression in spermatozoa showed a strong (P < 0.05) positive correlation with their ability to undergo an in vitro acrosome reaction. This was observed in all study groups (i.e., normozoospermia, r = 0.8545; oligozoospermia, r = 0.8711; asthenozoospermia, r = 0.7645; oligoasthenozoospermia, r = 0.9003; and teratozoospermia, r = 0.8676). This suggests a potential role for PR in the events leading to the acrosome reaction in sperm.
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