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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Physiological volume regulation by spermatozoa.

Maturing spermatozoa passing through the epididymis experience increasing osmolality in the luminal environment and mature cells are stored in fluids hyper-osmotic to serum. When ejaculated into the female tract, they encounter a hypo-osmotic challenge which initiates the process of regulatory volume decrease (RVD). Defects in RVD result in hindrance of mucus penetration in man and failure of utero-tubal passage in mice. Epididymal sperm from the mouse and cynomolgus monkey and ejaculated sperm from man and monkey have been isolated and dispersed in media with osmolalities mimicking those of uterine fluid or cervical mucus. The effects of specific and broad-spectrum ion channel blockers indicate the involvement of separate K(+) and Cl(-) channels as well as organic osmolytes in physiological sperm RVD, with mechanisms developed during epididymal maturation. Western blotting and immuno-cytochemistry identify and localise some of these channels which play a crucial role in fertilisation in vivo and could be targets for post-testicular contraception.[1]


  1. Physiological volume regulation by spermatozoa. Yeung, C.H., Barfield, J.P., Cooper, T.G. Mol. Cell. Endocrinol. (2006) [Pubmed]
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