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1 May 2013 New Insights into the Mechanisms of Ram Sperm Protection by Seminal Plasma Proteins
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To provide new insights into the mechanisms through which seminal plasma proteins (SPP) are able to protect spermatozoa, we tested the hypothesis that apoptosis can contribute to the negative effect of refrigeration on ram spermatozoa, and that SPP prevent this damage. Having proved the presence of key constituents of apoptosis-related pathways in ram sperm protein extracts, we carried out a comparative analysis of the effects of the addition of SPP before refrigeration (15°C, 30 min) and induced-apoptosis with betulinic acid or fibroblast-associated receptor ligand, assessing sperm quality parameters and apoptotic markers. The protective effect of SPP on plasma membrane integrity and potential, motility and mitochondrial inner membrane potential, and surface (cardiolipin content) was evidenced in refrigerated and induced-apoptosis samples. The addition of SPP resulted in lower values of phosphatidylserine externalization, DNA damage, and caspase activity. Therefore, apoptosis in fresh or refrigerated ram spermatozoa can occur due to activation of both the extrinsic and the intrinsic mediated pathway, and SPP might interfere with both pathways. The addition of SPP also resulted in higher proportions of viable, noncapacitated sperm and fertilizing ability (ZBA rate). This report demonstrates that SPP support survival of ram spermatozoa acting not only at the plasma membrane but also by inhibition of capacitation, and proposes the possibility that SPP might interfere with the extrinsic and the intrinsic apoptotic pathways. This opens new, interesting perspectives for the study of cellular regulatory mechanisms in spermatozoa that could be crucial for the improvement of ram semen preservation protocols.

Noelia Mendoza, Adriana Casao, Rosaura Pérez-Pé, José A. Cebrián-Pérez, and Teresa Muiño-Blanco "New Insights into the Mechanisms of Ram Sperm Protection by Seminal Plasma Proteins," Biology of Reproduction 88(6), (1 May 2013).
Received: 22 October 2012; Accepted: 1 April 2013; Published: 1 May 2013

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