Effects of exposure of epididymal boar spermatozoa to seminal plasma on the binding of zona pellucida proteins during in vitro capacitation

W. Harkema, B. Colenbrander, B. Engel, H. Woelders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of the investigation was to determine whether seminal plasma plays a role in the increase during in vitro capacitation of the number of boar spermatozoa with enhanced binding of zona pellucida proteins. Ejaculated spermatozoa and spermatozoa collected from the caudae epididymides of boars were incubated at 39 T in a Tyrode's IVF medium. During incubation, the zona binding ability of individual spermatozoa was assessed with fluorescein-conjugated solubilized zona pellucida proteins (FITC-sZP), using a flow cytometer. Propidium iodide (PI) was included to simultaneously monitor cell viability. During incubation of ejaculated spermatozoa, a percentage of the spermatozoa expressed enhanced binding of FITC-sZP. The percentage of viable spermatozoa with enhanced binding reached a maximum of 37% (S.D. = 8, averaged over five boars) after 2-3 h. In epididymal sperm, a similar maximum was observed after incubation in vitro, but a longer time of incubation was needed (6 h). Also, the rate of cell death of epididymal sperm was much lower than that of ejaculated sperm. When epididymal spermatozoa was exposed to seminal plasma in vitro, the time needed to reach a maximal percentage of viable spermatozoa with enhanced FITC-sZP binding was similar to that in ejaculated semen. However, the rate of cell death was still much lower than in ejaculated sperm. We concluded that the binding sites on the sperm surface that are involved in the increased binding of zona proteins during incubation under IVF conditions were not derived from the seminal plasma. The cellular processes leading to the increased binding capacity were accelerated by exposure of the sperm to seminal plasma. (C) 2003 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-226
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • high-density-lipoprotein
  • mammalian spermatozoa
  • sperm capacitation
  • acrosome reaction
  • major proteins
  • bovine sperm
  • pig oocytes
  • fertilization
  • cholesterol
  • membrane

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