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Mar. Drugs 2013, 11(6), 1909-1919; doi:10.3390/md11061909
Article

Effect of Astaxanthin on Human Sperm Capacitation

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1 Department of Molecular Medicine-Biological Chemistry, University of Padova, Padova 35131, Italy 2 Department of Women's and Chilren's Health, University of Padova, Padova 35131, Italy 3 Department of Medicine—Endocrinology, University of Padova, Padova 35131, Italy 4 Department of Pharmaceutical and Pharmacological Sciences, University of Padova, Padova 35131, Italy
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 27 February 2013 / Revised: 26 April 2013 / Accepted: 20 May 2013 / Published: 3 June 2013
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Abstract

In order to be able to fertilize oocytes, human sperm must undergo a series of morphological and structural alterations, known as capacitation. It has been shown that the production of endogenous sperm reactive oxygen species (ROS) plays a key role in causing cells to undergo a massive acrosome reaction (AR). Astaxanthin (Asta), a photo-protective red pigment belonging to the carotenoid family, is recognized as having anti-oxidant, anti-cancer, anti-diabetic and anti-inflammatory properties and is present in many dietary supplements. This study evaluates the effect of Asta in a capacitating buffer which induces low ROS production and low percentages of acrosome-reacted cells (ARC). Sperm cells were incubated in the presence or absence of increasing concentrations of Asta or diamide (Diam) and analyzed for their ROS production, Tyr-phosphorylation (Tyr-P) pattern and percentages of ARC and non-viable cells (NVC). Results show that Asta ameliorated both sperm head Tyr-P and ARC values without affecting the ROS generation curve, whereas Diam succeeded in enhancing the Tyr-P level but only of the flagellum without increasing ARC values. It is suggested that Asta can be inserted in the membrane and therefore create capacitation-like membrane alteration which allow Tyr-P of the head. Once this has occurred, AR can take place and involves a higher numbers of cells.
Keywords: human sperm; astaxanthin; Tyr-phosphorylation; acrosome reaction human sperm; astaxanthin; Tyr-phosphorylation; acrosome reaction
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).
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Donà, G.; Kožuh, I.; Brunati, A.M.; Andrisani, A.; Ambrosini, G.; Bonanni, G.; Ragazzi, E.; Armanini, D.; Clari, G.; Bordin, L. Effect of Astaxanthin on Human Sperm Capacitation. Mar. Drugs 2013, 11, 1909-1919.

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