Metabolic Strategy in Mammalian Spermatozoa and Oxidative Stress

Juan G. Alvarez

Abstract The ability of sperm to display motion and to propel itself in vivo and in vitro is highly dependent on its capability to produce ATP. Maintenance of sperm motility is not only dependent on the normal function of the contractile proteins of the axoneme and its ability to generate ATP, but also on the availability of metabolic substrate in the female reproductive tract. Metabolic enzymatic activities in sperm have kinetic properties similar to those of muscle cells. Although ATP-utilizing enzymes in these two types of cells are very different at a molecular level, they both produce contractile force. This suggests that sperm's metabolic machinery is designed to produce energy for the contractile work of motility with only minor amounts being consumed in other reactions, including those involved in the process of fertilization. The preferential conversion of glucose to lactate through glycolysis may be an important evolutionary feature of sperm, perhaps intended to minimize the accumulation of reducing equivalents in the mitochondria and subsequent increase in oxygen radical production.

Keywords Metabolic strategy • Pyruvate kinase • Oxygen radicals • Glycolysis •ATP

Department of Male Infertility, Centro Androgen, C/Fernando Macias 8, 1°C, 15004 La Coruna, La Coruna, Spain e-mail: [email protected]

A. Agarwal et al. (eds.), Studies on Men's Health and Fertility, Oxidative Stress 207

in Applied Basic Research and Clinical Practice, DOI 10.1007/978-1-61779-776-7_10, © Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

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