The oxidative modification of gametes by a reactive oxygen species is a major deleterious factor that decreases the successful rate of in vitro fertilization. Superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) plays a pivotal role in antioxidation by scavenging the superoxide anion, and its deficiency causes infertility in female mice, but the significance of the enzyme in male mice remains unclear. In the present study, we characterized Sod1−/− (Sod1-KO) male reproductive organs and compiled the first report of the impaired fertilizing ability of Sod1-KO sperm in in vitro fertilization. Insemination of wild-type oocytes with Sod1-KO sperm exhibited lower rates of fertility compared with insemination by wild-type sperm. The low fertilizing ability found for Sod1-KO sperm was partially rescued by reductant 2-mercaptoethanol, which suggested the oxidative modification of sperm components. The numbers of motile and progressive sperm decreased during the in vitro fertilization process, and a decline in ATP content and elevation in lipid peroxidation occurred in the Sod1-KO sperm in an incubation time-dependent manner. Tyrosine phosphorylation, which is a hallmark for sperm capacitation, was also impaired in the Sod1-KO sperm. These results collectively suggest that machinery involved in sperm capacitation and motility are vulnerable to oxidative damage during the in vitro fertilization process, which could increase the rate of inefficient fertilization.
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Vol. 87 • No. 5