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

Effect of Astaxanthin on Human Sperm Capacitation

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 and 1,*
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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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 which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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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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