Somatic cell apoptosis markers and pathways in human ejaculated sperm: potential utility as indicators of sperm quality

Document Type


Peer Reviewed


Publication Date


NLM Title Abbreviation

Mol Hum Reprod

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Molecular human reproduction

PubMed ID


DOI of Published Version



In this study we extended earlier work to determine whether sperm respond to somatic cell apoptotic stimuli and whether apoptotic phenotypes are significant indicators of human sperm quality. We evaluated ejaculated sperm from fertile donors and subfertile patients following purification of fractions of high and low motility. In unstimulated conditions, caspase enzymatic activity was higher in motile fractions from subfertile patients than in donors, and was higher in low motility fractions from both groups. Staurosporine, but not a Fas ligand or H2O2, significantly increased caspase activity, but only in high motility fractions. Procaspase-3, -7 and -9 and low levels of active caspase-3, -7 and -9 were identified by immunoblot analysis. Apoptosis-inducing factor (AIF) was present in all samples but poly ADP-ribose polymerase-1 (PARP-1) was not detected. Phosphatidylserine translocation was significantly increased only with H2O2 treatment. In ejaculates of both subfertile and fertile men, we demonstrated the presence and activation of several proteins that are key constituents of apoptosis-related pathways in somatic cells, which may serve as markers for sperm quality.


Adult, Annexin A5/metabolism, Apoptosis, Apoptosis Inducing Factor, Biological Markers/analysis/metabolism, Biological Transport/physiology, Caspases/analysis/metabolism, Ejaculation/physiology, Fas Ligand Protein, Flavoproteins/analysis/metabolism, Humans, Infertility, Male/diagnosis, Isoenzymes/analysis/metabolism, Male, Membrane Glycoproteins/pharmacology, Membrane Proteins/analysis/metabolism, Phosphatidylserines/metabolism, Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerases/analysis/metabolism, Sperm Motility/drug effects/physiology, Spermatozoa/chemistry/cytology/metabolism, Staurosporine/pharmacology

Published Article/Book Citation

Molecular human reproduction, 10:11 (2004) pp.825-834.

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