Calcium dependence of human sperm fertilizing ability

D. Mortimer, M. J. Chorney, E. F. Curtis, A. O. Trounson

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23 Scopus citations


The Ca2+ dependency of human‐sperm fertilizing ability was investigated using a modified Tyrode's medium either containing 2.4 mM CaCl2 (CA medium) or with the CaCl2 replaced by SrCl2 and 0.1 mM EGTA added to chelate any residual Ca2+ ions (SREG‐medium). Ten washed sperm populations incubated in either medium for 0, 6, and 22 hours showed the same occurrence of acrosome reactions (by fluorescent lectin labelling and triple stain). A further 3‐hour incubation after washing into fresh CA medium resulted in only a slight increase in acrosome reactions in both media. Eight sperm populations preincubated overnight in CA and SREG media were coincubated for 1 hour with previously salt‐stored human zonae pellucidae also in the same media. Significantly more motile spermatozoa were bound to more of the zonae in CA medium (53.9% vs. 27.6% of zonae with 13.8 vs. 4.3 sperm/bound zona). In three hamster egg penetration test (HEPT) experiments, sperm populations preincubated overnight in either CA or SREG media were coincubated with hamster oocytes prepared in the same media. Only 2.1% of oocytes (1.0 polyspermy) were penetrated in SREG medium, cf., 30.9% of oocytes (1.3 polyspermy) in CA medium. These results demonstrate that while Sr2+ ions can substitute fully for Ca2+ in the capacitation and acrosome reaction of human spermatozoa, sperm‐zona, and sperm‐oolemma interaction seem to involve some more Ca2+‐specific processes). Furthermore, the increased HEPT fertilizing ability of human spermatozoa using overnight preincubation in SREG medium and CA medium for the test cannot be explained on the basis of differential kinetics of capacitation or the acrosome reaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)194-201
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Experimental Zoology
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1988

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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