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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: closed (28 September 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Felipe Martinez-Pastor
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Molecular Biology (Cell Biology), Institute of Animal Health and Cattle Development (INDEGSAL), University of León, 24071 León, Spain
Interests: sperm biology; oxidative stress; seminal plasma; sperm chromatin; flow cytometry; sperm motility; ruminant reproduction; boar reproduction
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Manuel Álvarez-Rodríguez
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Biomedical & Clinical Sciences (BKV), Linköping University, SE-58185 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

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Keywords

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

Published Papers (18 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Molecular Determinants of Seminal Plasma on Sperm Biology and Fertility
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(7), 3555; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22073555 - 30 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 465
Abstract
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 [...] Full article

Research

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Article
Vasectomy and Photoperiodic Regimen Modify the Protein Profile, Hormonal Content and Antioxidant Enzymes Activity of Ram Seminal Plasma
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(21), 8063; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21218063 - 29 Oct 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 570
Abstract
This work aimed to determine the contribution of the testis and epididymis and the effect of the photoperiodic regimen on ram seminal plasma (SP). Semen was collected from 15 mature rams located in an equatorial (Colombian Creole and Romney Marsh, eight intact and [...] Read more.
This work aimed to determine the contribution of the testis and epididymis and the effect of the photoperiodic regimen on ram seminal plasma (SP). Semen was collected from 15 mature rams located in an equatorial (Colombian Creole and Romney Marsh, eight intact and two vasectomized) or a temperate climate (Rasa Aragonesa, three intact and two vasectomized). SP proteins were analyzed by Bradford, SDS-PAGE and difference gel electrophoresis (DIGE). Melatonin and testosterone concentrations were quantified by ELISA, and activity of glutathione peroxidase (GPx), glutathione reductase (GRD), and catalase by enzymatic assays. Vasectomy increased protein concentration and the intensity of high molecular weight bands (p < 0.001), with no differences between breeds. DIGE revealed the absence of six proteins in vasectomized rams: angiotensin-converting enzyme, lactotransferrin, phosphoglycerate kinase, sorbitol dehydrogenase, epididymal secretory glutathione peroxidase and epididymal secretory protein E1. Vasectomy also decreased melatonin concentrations in seasonal rams, and testosterone in all of them (p < 0.001), but did not affect antioxidant enzyme activity. Equatorial rams showed lower melatonin and testosterone concentration (p < 0.01) and catalase, but higher GPx activity (p < 0.05). In conclusion, vasectomy modifies the protein profile and hormonal content of ram seminal plasma, whereas the exposure to a constant photoperiod affects hormonal concentration and antioxidant enzymes activity. Full article
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Article
Tolerance of Stored Boar Spermatozoa to Autologous Seminal Plasma: A Proteomic and Lipidomic Approach
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(18), 6474; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21186474 - 04 Sep 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 890
Abstract
Long-term exposure of liquid preserved boar spermatozoa to seminal plasma (SP) can cause dramatic sperm injury. This study examined whether boar specificity exists in the sensitivity of spermatozoa to SP and whether correspondent biomarkers can be identified. Consecutive ejaculates (n = 4–5) [...] Read more.
Long-term exposure of liquid preserved boar spermatozoa to seminal plasma (SP) can cause dramatic sperm injury. This study examined whether boar specificity exists in the sensitivity of spermatozoa to SP and whether correspondent biomarkers can be identified. Consecutive ejaculates (n = 4–5) collected from 19 boars were centrifuged, diluted with a pH-stablising extender with 10% (v/v) autologous SP and evaluated by computer-assisted semen analysis and flow cytometry. Up until 144 h storage, four boars showed consistently high sperm motility, viability and mitochondria activity, and one boar showed consistently low values. Intra-boar variability was high in the other boars. Screening of SP (n = 12 samples) for protein markers using mass spectrometry identified three protein candidates of which the granulin precursor, legumain and AWN were 0.5 to 0.9 log2-fold less abundant (p < 0.05) in SP-resistant compared to SP-sensitive samples. Lipidome analysis by mass spectrometry revealed 568 lipids showing no difference between the SP-groups. The most abundant lipids were cholesterol (42,442 pmol), followed by phosphatidylserine (20,956 pmol) and ether-linked phosphatidylethanolamine (13,039 pmol). In conclusion, three candidate proteins were identified which might be indicative of SP-tolerance of sperm during long-term storage. Noteworthy, a first lipidomic profile of boar SP is presented. Full article
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Article
Seminal Plasma Analysis of Oxidative Stress in Different Genitourinary Topographical Regions Involved in Reproductive Tract Disorders Associated with Genital Heat Stress
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(17), 6427; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21176427 - 03 Sep 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 832
Abstract
The pathophysiological mechanisms responsible for male subfertility/infertility caused by or complicated by genital heat stress remains unclear in many respects. Because seminal plasma creates the environment for the proper functioning of spermatozoa, in this study, we verified the associations among standard spermiograms, seminal [...] Read more.
The pathophysiological mechanisms responsible for male subfertility/infertility caused by or complicated by genital heat stress remains unclear in many respects. Because seminal plasma creates the environment for the proper functioning of spermatozoa, in this study, we verified the associations among standard spermiograms, seminal biochemical parameters (neutral alpha-glucosidase, fructose, and citric acid) and oxidative stress markers (total antioxidant capacity, catalase activity, superoxide dismutase activity, and malondialdehyde concentration) in distinct entities associated with male infertility with and without long-time exposure to local hyperthermia. We demonstrated that men exposed to prolonged environmental or clinically recognized local heat stress in adulthood may suffer from dysregulation of seminal antioxidant components, which can be directly associated with epididymal and prostate function. The comparative analysis of the studied parameters showed numerous correlations among all biochemical parameters (particularly neutral alpha-glucosidase) with low standard semen quality in almost all the investigated infertile groups. In light of the data obtained in this originally designed study, we conclude that more attention should be paid to the epididymis and accessory gland function in subfertile and infertile men exposed to genital heat stress, especially in the context of novel treatment algorithms (targeted therapies). Full article
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Article
Effect of Seminal Plasma Protein Fractions on Stallion Sperm Cryopreservation
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(17), 6415; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21176415 - 03 Sep 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 871
Abstract
Seminal plasma (SP) is the natural environment for spermatozoa and contains a number of components, especially proteins important for successful sperm maturation and fertilization. Nevertheless, in standard frozen stallion insemination doses production, SP is completely removed and is replaced by a semen extender. [...] Read more.
Seminal plasma (SP) is the natural environment for spermatozoa and contains a number of components, especially proteins important for successful sperm maturation and fertilization. Nevertheless, in standard frozen stallion insemination doses production, SP is completely removed and is replaced by a semen extender. In the present study, we analyzed the effects of the selected seminal plasma protein groups that might play an important role in reducing the detrimental effects on spermatozoa during the cryopreservation process. SP proteins were separated according to their ability to bind to heparin into heparin-binding (Hep+) and heparin-non-binding (Hep−) fractions. The addition of three concentrations—125, 250, and 500 µg/mL—of each protein fraction was tested. After thawing, the following parameters were assessed: sperm motility (by CASA), plasma membrane integrity (PI staining), and acrosomal membrane integrity (PNA staining) using flow cytometry, and capacitation status (anti-phosphotyrosine antibody) using imaging-based flow cytometry. Our results showed that SP protein fractions had a significant effect on the kinematic parameters of spermatozoa and on a proportion of their subpopulations. The 125 µg/mL of Hep+ protein fraction resulted in increased linearity (LIN) and straightness (STR), moreover, with the highest values of sperm velocities (VAP, VSL), also this group contained the highest proportion of the fast sperm subpopulation. In contrast, the highest percentage of slow subpopulation was in the groups with 500 µg/mL of Hep+ fraction and 250 µg/mL of Hep− fraction. Interestingly, acrosomal membrane integrity was also highest in the groups with Hep+ fraction in concentrations of 125 µg/mL. Our results showed that the addition of protein fractions did not significantly affect the plasma membrane integrity and capacitation status of stallion spermatozoa. Moreover, our results confirmed that the effect of SP proteins on the sperm functionality is concentration-dependent, as has been reported for other species. Our study significantly contributes to the lack of studies dealing with possible use of specific stallion SP fractions in the complex puzzle of the improvement of cryopreservation protocols. It is clear that improvement in this field still needs more outputs from future studies, which should be focused on the effect of individual SP proteins on other sperm functional parameters with further implication on the success of artificial insemination in in vivo conditions. Full article
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Article
Sperm Proteome after Interaction with Reproductive Fluids in Porcine: From the Ejaculation to the Fertilization Site
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(17), 6060; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21176060 - 22 Aug 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 964
Abstract
Ejaculated sperm are exposed to different environments before encountering the oocyte. However, how the sperm proteome changes during this transit remains unsolved. This study aimed to identify proteomic changes in boar sperm after incubation with male (seminal plasma, SP) and/or female (uterine fluid, [...] Read more.
Ejaculated sperm are exposed to different environments before encountering the oocyte. However, how the sperm proteome changes during this transit remains unsolved. This study aimed to identify proteomic changes in boar sperm after incubation with male (seminal plasma, SP) and/or female (uterine fluid, UF; and oviductal fluid, OF) reproductive fluids. The following experimental groups were analyzed: (1) SP: sperm + 20% SP; (2) UF: sperm + 20% UF; (3) OF: sperm + 20% OF; (4) SP + UF: sperm + 20% SP + 20% UF; and (5) SP+OF: sperm + 20% SP + 20% OF. The proteome analysis, performed by HPLC-MS/MS, allowed the identification of 265 proteins. A total of 69 proteins were detected in the UF, SP, and SP + UF groups, and 102 proteins in the OF, SP, and SP + OF groups. Our results showed a higher number of proteins when sperm were incubated with only one fluid than when they were co-incubated with two fluids. Additionally, the number of sperm-interacting proteins from the UF group was lower than the OF group. In conclusion, the interaction of sperm with reproductive fluids alters its proteome. The description of sperm-interacting proteins in porcine species after co-incubation with male and/or female reproductive fluids may be useful to understand sperm transport, selection, capacitation, or fertilization phenomena. Full article
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Article
Proteomic Analysis in Seminal Plasma of Fertile Donors and Infertile Patients with Sperm DNA Fragmentation
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(14), 5046; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21145046 - 17 Jul 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 800
Abstract
Seminal plasma proteomics studies could represent a new approach for the determination of molecular elements driving male infertility, resulting in a better male infertility characterization. The aim of this study is to investigate proteomic differences in seminal plasma samples from fertile and infertile [...] Read more.
Seminal plasma proteomics studies could represent a new approach for the determination of molecular elements driving male infertility, resulting in a better male infertility characterization. The aim of this study is to investigate proteomic differences in seminal plasma samples from fertile and infertile individuals. For that, semen samples were selected according to semen analysis, clinical pathology, and values of sperm DNA fragmentation (alkaline and neutral Comet assay and Sperm Chromatin Dispersion test). A total of 24 seminal plasma samples classified in four groups were processed: fertile donors (FD), recurrent miscarriage patients (RM), asthenoteratozoospermic patients (ATZ), and asthenoteratozoospermic patients with varicocele (ATZ-VAR). Results obtained by 2D-differential gel electrophoresis (2D-DIGE) revealed 26 spots significantly increased in fertile donors when compared to patient groups. Also, eight spots in the ATZ group and two in the ATZ-VAR group were decreased compared to the other groups. Twenty-eight proteins were identified by mass spectrometry (MS), most of them involved in metabolic and cellular processes and with a catalytic or binding function. Protein–protein interactions through Search Tool for the Retrieval of Interacting Genes/Proteins (STRING) tool suggest that a large part of them were associated with each other. Furthermore, most of them were associated with ubiquitin C, indicating that it could play an important regulation role, resulting in a potential male infertility biomarker. Full article
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Article
The Presence of Seminal Plasma during Liquid Storage of Pig Spermatozoa at 17 °C Modulates Their Ability to Elicit In Vitro Capacitation and Trigger Acrosomal Exocytosis
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(12), 4520; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21124520 - 25 Jun 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1038
Abstract
Although seminal plasma is essential to maintain sperm integrity and function, it is diluted/removed prior to liquid storage and cryopreservation in most mammalian species. This study sought to evaluate, using the pig as a model, whether storing semen in the presence of seminal [...] Read more.
Although seminal plasma is essential to maintain sperm integrity and function, it is diluted/removed prior to liquid storage and cryopreservation in most mammalian species. This study sought to evaluate, using the pig as a model, whether storing semen in the presence of seminal plasma affects the sperm ability to elicit in vitro capacitation and acrosomal exocytosis. Upon collection, seminal plasma was separated from sperm samples, which were diluted in a commercial extender, added with seminal plasma (15% or 30%), and stored at 17 °C for 48 or 72 h. Sperm cells were subsequently exposed to capacitating medium for 4 h, and then added with progesterone to induce acrosomal exocytosis. Sperm motility, acrosome integrity, membrane lipid disorder, intracellular Ca2+ levels, mitochondrial activity, and tyrosine phosphorylation levels of glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK3)α/β were determined after 0, 2, and 4 h of incubation, and after 5, 30, and 60 min of progesterone addition. Results showed that storing sperm at 17 °C with 15% or 30% seminal plasma led to reduced percentages of viable spermatozoa exhibiting an exocytosed acrosome, mitochondrial membrane potential, intracellular Ca2+ levels stained by Fluo3, and tyrosine phosphorylation levels of GSK3α/β after in vitro capacitation and progesterone-induced acrosomal exocytosis. Therefore, the direct contact between spermatozoa and seminal plasma during liquid storage at 17 °C modulated their ability to elicit in vitro capacitation and undergo acrosomal exocytosis, via signal transduction pathways involving Ca2+ and Tyr phosphorylation of GSK3α/β. Further research is required to address whether such a modulating effect has any impact upon sperm fertilizing ability. Full article
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Article
The Ubiquitin-Proteasome System Does Not Regulate the Degradation of Porcine β-Microseminoprotein during Sperm Capacitation
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(11), 4151; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21114151 - 10 Jun 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 907
Abstract
Sperm capacitation, one of the key events during successful fertilization, is associated with extensive structural and functional sperm remodeling, beginning with the modification of protein composition within the sperm plasma membrane. The ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS), a multiprotein complex responsible for protein degradation and [...] Read more.
Sperm capacitation, one of the key events during successful fertilization, is associated with extensive structural and functional sperm remodeling, beginning with the modification of protein composition within the sperm plasma membrane. The ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS), a multiprotein complex responsible for protein degradation and turnover, participates in capacitation events. Previous studies showed that capacitation-induced shedding of the seminal plasma proteins such as SPINK2, AQN1, and DQH from the sperm surface is regulated by UPS. Alterations in the sperm surface protein composition also relate to the porcine β-microseminoprotein (MSMB/PSP94), seminal plasma protein known as immunoglobulin-binding factor, and motility inhibitor. MSMB was detected in the acrosomal region as well as the flagellum of ejaculated boar spermatozoa, while the signal disappeared from the acrosomal region after in vitro capacitation (IVC). The involvement of UPS in the MSMB degradation during sperm IVC was studied using proteasomal interference and ubiquitin-activating enzyme (E1) inhibiting conditions by image-based flow cytometry and Western blot detection. Our results showed no accumulation of porcine MSMB either under proteasomal inhibition or under E1 inhibiting conditions. In addition, the immunoprecipitation study did not detect any ubiquitination of sperm MSMB nor was MSMB detected in the affinity-purified fraction containing ubiquitinated sperm proteins. Based on our results, we conclude that UPS does not appear to be the regulatory mechanism in the case of MSMB and opening new questions for further studies. Thus, the capacitation-induced processing of seminal plasma proteins on the sperm surface may be more complex than previously thought, employing multiple proteolytic systems in a non-redundant manner. Full article
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Article
Optimization of microRNA Acquirement from Seminal Plasma and Identification of Diminished Seminal microRNA-34b as Indicator of Low Semen Concentration
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(11), 4089; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21114089 - 08 Jun 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 808
Abstract
About 10–15% of couples who want to conceive suffer from subfertility, while in 30% of these cases, a male factor plays a role. Levels of particular microRNAs in seminal plasma, including those involved in spermatogenesis, may serve as an indicative parameter for subfertility. [...] Read more.
About 10–15% of couples who want to conceive suffer from subfertility, while in 30% of these cases, a male factor plays a role. Levels of particular microRNAs in seminal plasma, including those involved in spermatogenesis, may serve as an indicative parameter for subfertility. We first optimized a protocol for acquiring microRNAs from seminal plasma. Next, using a test-validation strategy in a male cohort, we aimed to identify microRNAs of which the levels are related to semen motility and concentration. By qPCR, 742 microRNAs were profiled in three normozoospermic samples, three seminal samples with a low semen motility (asthenozoospermia), and three with a low semen concentration (oligozoospermia). MicroRNAs showing significant differences between groups were further validated in a second cohort consisting of 40 samples with normozoospermia (control group), 47 samples with asthenozoospermia, and 19 samples with oligozoospermia (of which 74% also low motility). Highest microRNA yields were obtained with the Biofluids RNA extraction kit, with inclusion of MS2 RNA carrier and proteinase K treatment to the protocol, and when 50 µL of seminal plasma was used as input. Exosome isolation prior to RNA extraction did not lead to enhanced yields. In the test cohort, 236 microRNAs could be detected, of which 54 microRNAs showed a difference between groups. Five microRNAs were analyzed in the validation cohort. MiR-34b-5p levels in the control group were significantly higher compared to the asthenozoospermia group (p < 0.05) and compared to the oligozoospermia group (p < 0.001). We optimized microRNA acquirement from seminal plasma and identified microRNA levels in relation to semen concentration and motility. As recent human and mouse studies show that the miR-34 family is a marker of low semen concentration and is crucial in spermatogenesis, seminal plasma miR-34b-5p may represent a suitable candidate to study further as a marker of male subfertility. Full article
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Article
Human Semenogelin 1 Promotes Sperm Survival in the Mouse Female Reproductive Tract
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(11), 3961; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21113961 - 31 May 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1062
Abstract
Semenogelin 1 (SEMG1), a main component of human seminal plasma, is a multi-functional protein involved in the regulation of sperm motility and fertility. SEMG1 is orthologous to mouse seminal vesicle secretion 2 (SVS2), required for sperm survival in the female reproductive tract after [...] Read more.
Semenogelin 1 (SEMG1), a main component of human seminal plasma, is a multi-functional protein involved in the regulation of sperm motility and fertility. SEMG1 is orthologous to mouse seminal vesicle secretion 2 (SVS2), required for sperm survival in the female reproductive tract after copulation; however, its in vivo function remains unclear. In this study, we addressed this issue by examining the effect of recombinant SEMG1 on intrauterine mouse sperm survival. SEMG1 caused a dose-dependent decrease in mouse sperm motility, similar to its effect on human sperm, but SVS2 had no effect on mouse sperm motility. Mouse epididymal sperm in the presence of 100 µM SEMG1, a concentration that does not affect mouse sperm motility, were injected into the mouse uterus (intrauterine insemination, IUI). IUI combined with SEMG1 significantly increased the survival rate of intrauterine mouse sperm. The effect of SEMG1 on intrauterine sperm survival was comparable with that of SVS2. For clinical applications, three potentially sperm-protecting polypeptides that are easy to handle were designed from SEMG1, but their individual use was unable to mimic the ability of SEMG1. Our results indicate that SEMG1 has potential clinical applications for effective IUI and thereby for safe, simple, and effective internal fertilization. Full article
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Article
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
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 984
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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Article
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
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1035
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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Article
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
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 808
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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Review

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Review
The Vehicle Determines the Destination: The Significance of Seminal Plasma Factors for Male Fertility
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(22), 8499; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21228499 - 12 Nov 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 810
Abstract
Of all human infertility cases, up to 50% show contributing factors leading to defects in the male reproductive physiology. Seminal plasma (SP) is the biological fluid derived from the male accessory sex gland which carries spermatozoa passing throughout the male and female reproductive [...] Read more.
Of all human infertility cases, up to 50% show contributing factors leading to defects in the male reproductive physiology. Seminal plasma (SP) is the biological fluid derived from the male accessory sex gland which carries spermatozoa passing throughout the male and female reproductive tract during ejaculation. It contains a complicated set of heterogeneous molecular structures, including proteins, cell-free nucleic acid (DNA, microRNA and LncRNA), and small-molecule metabolites as well as inorganic chemicals (ions). For a long time, the substantial significance of seminal plasma factors’ functions has been underestimated, which is restricted to spermatozoa transport and protection. Notably, significant advancements have been made in dissecting seminal plasma components, revealing new insights into multiple aspects of sperm function, as well as fertilization and pregnancy outcomes in recent years. In this review, we summarize the state-of-art discoveries regarding SP compositions and their implications in male fertility, particularly describing the novel understanding of seminal plasma components and related modifications using “omics” approaches and mainly focusing on proteome and RNA-seq data in the latest decade. Meanwhile, we highlighted the proposed mechanism of the regulation of SP molecules on immunomodulation in the female reproductive tract. Moreover, we also discussed the proteins investigated as non-invasive diagnosis biomarkers for male infertility in the clinic. Full article
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Review
Seminal Plasma Transcriptome and Proteome: Towards a Molecular Approach in the Diagnosis of Idiopathic Male Infertility
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(19), 7308; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21197308 - 03 Oct 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 845
Abstract
As the “-omic” technology has largely developed, its application in the field of medical science seems a highly promising tool to clarify the etiology, at least in part, of the so-called idiopathic male infertility. The seminal plasma (SP) is made-up of secretions coming [...] Read more.
As the “-omic” technology has largely developed, its application in the field of medical science seems a highly promising tool to clarify the etiology, at least in part, of the so-called idiopathic male infertility. The seminal plasma (SP) is made-up of secretions coming from the male accessory glands, namely epididymis, seminal vesicles, and prostate. It is not only a medium for sperm transport since it is able to modulate the female reproductive environment and immunity, to allow the acquisition of sperm competence, to influence the sperm RNA content, and even embryo development. The aim of this systematic review was to provide an updated and comprehensive description of the main transcripts and proteins reported by transcriptome and proteome studies performed in the human SP of patients with idiopathic infertility, in the attempt of identifying possible candidate molecular targets. We recurrently found that micro RNA (miR)-34, miR-122, and miR-509 are down-regulated in patients with non-obstructive azoospermia (NOA) and oligozoospermia compared with fertile controls. These molecules may represent interesting targets whose predictive role in testicular sperm extraction (TESE) or assisted reproductive techniques (ART) outcome deserves further investigation. Furthermore, according to the available proteomic studies, ECM1, TEX101, lectingalactoside-binding andsoluble 3 binding protein (LGALS3BP) have been reported as accurate predictors of TESE outcome. Interestingly, ECM1 is differently expressed in patients with different ART outcomes. Further prospective, ample-sized studies are needed to validate these molecular targets that will help in the counseling of patients with NOA or undergoing ART. Full article
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Review
Exosome Composition and Seminal Plasma Proteome: A Promising Source of Biomarkers of Male Infertility
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(19), 7022; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21197022 - 24 Sep 2020
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 1267
Abstract
Infertility has become a global health issue, with approximately 50% of infertility cases generated by disorders in male reproduction. Spermatozoa are conveyed towards female genital tracts in a safe surrounding provided by the seminal plasma. Interestingly, this dynamically changing medium is a rich [...] Read more.
Infertility has become a global health issue, with approximately 50% of infertility cases generated by disorders in male reproduction. Spermatozoa are conveyed towards female genital tracts in a safe surrounding provided by the seminal plasma. Interestingly, this dynamically changing medium is a rich source of proteins, essential not only for sperm transport, but also for its protection and maturation. Most of the seminal proteins are acquired by spermatozoa in transit through exosomes (epididymosomes and prostasomes). The high number of seminal proteins, the increasing knowledge of their origins and biological functions and their differential expression in the case of azoospermia, asthenozoospermia, oligozoospermia and teratozoospermia or other conditions of male infertility have allowed the identification of a wide variety of biomarker candidates and their involvement in biological pathways, thus to strongly suggest that the proteomic landscape of seminal plasma may be a potential indicator of sperm dysfunction. This review summarizes the current knowledge in seminal plasma proteomics and its potentiality as a diagnostic tool in different degrees of male infertility. Full article
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Review
Functional Aspects of Seminal Plasma in Bird Reproduction
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(16), 5664; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21165664 - 07 Aug 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1163
Abstract
This review provides an updated overview of the seminal plasma composition, and the role of metabolic and protein components on the sperm function of avian species. In addition, the implication of seminal plasma on assisted reproductive techniques of birds was discussed. The semen [...] Read more.
This review provides an updated overview of the seminal plasma composition, and the role of metabolic and protein components on the sperm function of avian species. In addition, the implication of seminal plasma on assisted reproductive techniques of birds was discussed. The semen of birds usually has exceptionally high sperm concentration with relatively little seminal plasma, but this contributes to very fast changes in sperm metabolism and function. The biochemical characteristics and physiological roles of the various seminal plasma components in birds (carbohydrates, lipids, amino acids, hormones, and proteins) are poorly understood. Seminal plasma content of proteins has an action on most cellular functions: metabolism, immunity, oxido-reduction regulation, proteolysis, apoptosis, ion homeostasis, and antimicrobial defenses. The variable amount of many proteins is related to a different fertility capacity of poultry sperm. The role of seminal plasma on semen conservation (chilling and freezing) remains largely a matter of speculation, as both inhibitory and stimulating effects have been found. Whereas the presence of seminal plasma did not seem to affect the sperm survival after freezing–thawing, DNA fragmentation is lower in the absence of seminal plasma. The molecular basis of the influence of seminal plasma on sperm cryo-resistance was also discussed in the present review. Full article
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