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Special Issue "Molecular Determinants of Seminal Plasma on Sperm Biology and Fertility"

A special issue of International Journal of Molecular Sciences (ISSN 1422-0067). This special issue belongs to the section "Molecular Biology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 July 2020.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Felipe Martinez-Pastor
Website
Guest Editor
INDEGSAL and Molecular Biology (Cell Biology), Universidad de León, Leon, Spain
Interests: sperm biology; oxidative stress; seminal plasma; sperm chromatin; flow cytometry; sperm motility; ruminants reproduction; boar reproduction
Dr. Manuel Álvarez-Rodríguez
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Biomedical and Clinical Sciences. Division of Children’s and Wome Health. University of Linköping, Linköping, Sweden
Interests: sperm biology; oxidative stress; seminal plasma; sperm chromatin; flow cytometry; sperm motility; ruminants reproduction; boar reproduction

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Seminal plasma has gained attention in the last decades, developing from being a mere vehicle for spermatozoa delivery to the female to having a pivotal role in fertility and offspring well-being. Research done in recent years has offered us a wealth of information on the molecular composition of this biological fluid and its influence in sperm biology, fertilization, and pregnancy.

This is a fascinating topic. Seminal plasma components not only modulate sperm physiology, but also interact with the female genital tract at many levels, affecting sperm transport and the immunological environment. Frontier research areas, such as proteomics, mRNA, miRNA, and extracellular vesicles analysis have entered in the study of seminal plasma. Moreover, there are plenty of differences between species, due to the strong evolutionary forces reflecting on an immense diversity of mating systems, genital morphology, and molecular interactions. Thus, seminal plasma has unique features and roles in each species.

Applied research on seminal plasma has also been plentiful. Both friend and foe, techniques related to assisted reproduction have aimed either at suppressing adverse effects of seminal plasma or at using it to improve fertility results. Currently, many research groups are dedicated to using seminal plasma or isolated components as supplements for sperm conservation, artificial insemination, or to promote embryo production or implantation.

This issue of IJMS is focused on "Molecular determinants of seminal plasma on sperm biology and fertility," and therefore welcomes novel research or insightful reviews on seminal plasma components, either basic or applied. Since seminal plasma involves many levels of animal reproduction, submissions dealing with its production, regulation, or related pathologies are also welcomed.

Dr. Felipe Martinez-Pastor
Dr. Manuel Álvarez-Rodríguez
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Molecular Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

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Keywords

  • Seminal plasma
  • spermatozoa
  • accessory glands
  • fertility
  • proteomics
  • miRNA
  • extracellular vesicles
  • artificial insemination
  • sperm capacitation
  • pregnancy

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Seminal Plasma Induces Overexpression of Genes Associated with Embryo Development and Implantation in Day-6 Porcine Blastocysts
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(10), 3662; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21103662 - 22 May 2020
Abstract
The infusion of boar seminal plasma (SP) before artificial insemination (AI) positively alters the expression of endometrial genes and pathways involved in embryo development. This study aimed to determine which transcriptome changes occur in preimplantation embryos in response to SP infusions during estrus. [...] Read more.
The infusion of boar seminal plasma (SP) before artificial insemination (AI) positively alters the expression of endometrial genes and pathways involved in embryo development. This study aimed to determine which transcriptome changes occur in preimplantation embryos in response to SP infusions during estrus. Postweaning estrus sows received 40-mL intrauterine infusions of either SP (N = 6) or BTS extender (control group; N = 6) 30 min before each of two post-cervical AIs. On Day 6, embryos were surgically collected and analyzed for differential gene expression. Microarray analysis of embryos revealed 210 annotated genes, differentially expressed (p-value < 0.05 and fold change </> 2) in SP-blastocysts, compared to controls. Most of these genes were associated with biological, cellular, metabolic and developmental processes. The pathways enriched among the upregulated genes related to signal transduction, cellular processes and the endocrine system. Among altered genes involved in these pathways, the SP-group showed a conspicuous overexpression of ApoA-I, CDK1, MAPK1, SMAD2, PRKAA1 and RICTOR, with reported key roles in embryo development, implantation, or progression of pregnancy. In conclusion, the results demonstrate that SP infusions prior to AI upregulates the expression of embryo development related genes in Day 6 pig embryos. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Seminal Plasma, Sperm Concentration, and Sperm-PMN Interaction in the Donkey: An In Vitro Model to Study Endometrial Inflammation at Post-Insemination
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(10), 3478; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21103478 - 14 May 2020
Abstract
In the donkey, artificial insemination (AI) with frozen-thawed semen is associated with low fertility rates, which could be partially augmented through adding seminal plasma (SP) and increasing sperm concentration. On the other hand, post-AI endometrial inflammation in the jenny is significantly higher than [...] Read more.
In the donkey, artificial insemination (AI) with frozen-thawed semen is associated with low fertility rates, which could be partially augmented through adding seminal plasma (SP) and increasing sperm concentration. On the other hand, post-AI endometrial inflammation in the jenny is significantly higher than in the mare. While previous studies analyzed this response through recovering Polymorphonuclear Neutrophils (PMN) from uterine washings, successive lavages can detrimentally impact the endometrium, leading to fertility issues. For this reason, the first set of experiments in this work intended to set an in vitro model through harvesting PMN from the peripheral blood of jennies. Thereafter, how PMN, which require a triggering agent like formyl-methionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine (FMLP) to be activated, are affected by donkey semen was interrogated. Finally, we tested how four concentrations of spermatozoa (100 × 106, 200 × 106, 500 × 106 and 1000 × 106 spermatozoa/mL) affected their interaction with PMN. We observed that semen, which consists of sperm and SP, is able to activate PMN. Whereas there was a reduced percentage of spermatozoa phagocytosed by PMN, most remained attached on the PMN surface or into a surrounding halo. Spermatozoa not attached to PMN were viable, and most of those bound to PMN were also viable and showed high tail beating. Finally, only sperm concentrations higher than 500 × 106 spermatozoa/mL showed free sperm cells after 3 h of incubation, and percentages of spermatozoa not attached to PMN were higher at 3 h than at 1 h, exhibiting high motility. We can thus conclude that semen activates PMN in the donkey, and that the percentage of spermatozoa phagocytosed by PMN is low. Furthermore, because percentages of spermatozoa not attached to PMN were higher after 3 h than after 1 h of incubation, we suggest that PMN-sperm interaction plays an instrumental role in the reproductive strategy of the donkey. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Heterogenic Origin of Micro RNAs in Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar) Seminal Plasma
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(8), 2723; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21082723 - 15 Apr 2020
Abstract
The origin and contribution of seminal plasma RNAs into the whole semen RNA repertoire are poorly known, frequently being overlooked or neglected. In this study, we used high-throughput sequencing and RT-qPCR to profile microRNA (miRNA) constituents in the whole semen, as well as [...] Read more.
The origin and contribution of seminal plasma RNAs into the whole semen RNA repertoire are poorly known, frequently being overlooked or neglected. In this study, we used high-throughput sequencing and RT-qPCR to profile microRNA (miRNA) constituents in the whole semen, as well as in fractionated spermatozoa and seminal plasma of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). We found 85 differentially accumulated miRNAs between spermatozoa and the seminal plasma. We identified a number of seminal plasma-enriched and spermatozoa-enriched miRNAs. We localized the expression of some miRNAs in juvenile and mature testes. Two abundant miRNAs, miR-92a-3p and miR-202-5p, localized to both spermatogonia and somatic supporting cells in immature testis, and they were also highly abundant in somatic cells in mature testis. miR-15c-5p, miR-30d-5p, miR-93a-5p, and miR-730-5p were detected only in mature testis. miRs 92a-3p, 202-5p, 15c-5p, and 30d-5p were also detected in a juvenile ovary. The RT-qPCR experiment demonstrated lack of correlation in miRNA transcript levels in seminal plasma versus blood plasma. Our results indicate that salmon semen is rich in miRNAs, which are present in both spermatozoa and seminal plasma. Testicular-supporting somatic cells are likely the source of seminal plasma enrichment, whereas blood plasma is unlikely to contribute to the seminal plasma miRNA repertoire. Full article
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Seminal plasma: relevant for fertility?"

Rodriguez-Martinez et al

Abstract: Seminal plasma (SP), the non-cellular component of semen, is a heterogeneous composite fluid built by secretions of the testes, epididymides and the species-dependent accessory sexual glands that. The SP aids the maintenance of sperm function and triggers changes in gene function in the female genitalia, preparing for an eventual successful pregnancy; ultimately modulating fertility. Its composition varies among species, containing inorganic ions, specific hormones, proteins and peptides, cytokines, enzymes, cholesterol, DNA and RNA, the latter related or not to extracellular vesicles (mostly exosomes as epididymosomes and prostasomes). This review attempts, including own results on various species, to critically summarize current knowledge of the roles played by SP components during in vivo reproduction and their relevance for improving reproductive biotechnologies in livestock. It is beyond question that specific components of the SP participate in diverse aspects of sperm function and seem essential for sperm interactions with the various environments of the tubular genital tract or the oocyte and its vestments. Despite these concepts, it is imperative to remember that SP-free (epididymal or washed) spermatozoa are still fertile, so this review shall focus on the differences between physiological/in vivo roles of the SP following semen deposition on the female and those regarding additions of SP on spermatozoa handled for artificial reproduction, including cryopreservation, from artificial insemination to in vitro fertilization. The ultimate goal is to reconcile in vivo findings for their relevance as diagnostic biomarkers as well as the refinement of reproductive strategies in livestock.

Cold shock test enables selecting boars producing seminal plasma to improve post-thawing seminal quality

Estíbaliz Lacalle, Andrea Núñez, Estela Fernández-Alegre, Itxaso Crespo-Félez, Juan Carlos Domínguez, M.E. Alonso, Raúl González-Urdiales and Felipe Martínez-Pastor.

Abstract: Pig industry depends on artificial insemination with refrigerated doses from selected boars due to cryopreserved semen is not yet widespread. We hypothesize that adding seminal plasma (SP) to thawed semen could improve its quality. However, SP suitability depends on the boar. We propose that a cold shock test (0 °C, 5min) could select the most suitable males. It was evaluated motility (CASA) with (stimulated, S) and without (non-stimulated, N) caffeine, viability (propidium iodide) and acrosomal integrity (PNA-FITC) (flow cytometry). We clustered boars (k-means) in four populations, and tested SP from the most sensitive (SPs) and resistant (SPr) boars, supplementing thawed semen with MR-A extender (control, CTL), MR-A with SPs or SPr (20%, 50x106 spz/ml), assessed at 0, 2 and 4 h. Regarding motility, effect of both SP was mainly observed in N samples. Total and progressive motility improved only in N samples with SPr. Both SP decreased some velocity parameters: VCL, VAP, ALH and BCF. However, straightness (STR) increased in SP vs CTL (p<0.05). Regarding S samples, only VAP was affected, showing a decreasing in SPr vs CTL (p<0.05). Cold shock is a simple and fast test which select those boars that produce SP more adequate for supplementing thawed semen.

 

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