Capacitation of bovine spermatozoa by lysophospholipids and trypsin

Matthew B. Wheeler, George E. Seidel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Bovine spermatozoa were incubated in vitro with lysophosphatidylserine (LPS), lysophosphatidylcholine (LPC), lysophosphatidylethanolamine (LPE), lysophosphatidylinositol (LPI), or trypsin. Capacitation of sperm was evaluated by penetration of the zonae pellucidae of dead bovine oocytes. Capacitation times could be shortened to 3 h or less by treatment of spermatozoa with each of these lysophospholipids (LPLs) (P < .05). The maximum oocyte penetration percentages for individual LPLs were 40% for 10 μM LPS, 24% for 160 μM LPC, 31% for 320 μM LPE, and 19% for 320 μM LPI. Capacitation also was facilitated (P < .01) by trypsin treatment of spermatozoa. Spermatozoa treated with 250 or 2,500 units/ml of trypsin penetrated more oocytes (17 and 18%) than spermatozoa treated with 0 or 25 units/ml of trypsin (0 and 3%). Spermatozoa treated with increasing concentrations of LPL showed a decrease in both the percentage of intact acrosomes and of progressively motile spermatozoa. Increasing levels of trypsin in the incubation medium also led to a decrease (P < .05) in the percentages of intact acrosomes and a decrease (P < .01) in the percentages of progressively motile spermatozoa. Percentages of live, ovulated oocytes fertilized by spermatozoa incubated for 1 h in LPS (86%, 6/7) were not different from those incubated for 24 h in control medium (71%, 5/7). Percentages of oocytes fertilized with both of these capacitation treatments were higher (P < .05) than for oocytes exposed or killed or uncapacitated sperm. Rapid induction of capacitation and the acrosome reaction can be accomplished by exogenous treatment of bovine sperm with lysophospholipids or trypsin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-204
Number of pages12
JournalGamete Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1989
Externally publishedYes


  • bull semen
  • in vitro fertilization
  • oocyte penetration assay
  • zona pellucida

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology


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