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Volume 22, Issue 5 (September 2020) 22, 447–453; 10.4103/aja.aja_104_19

Influence of in vitro capacitation time on structural and functional human sperm parameters

Paula Sáez-Espinosa1,2, Natalia Huerta-Retamal1, Laura Robles-Gómez1, Manuel Avilés3, Jon Aizpurua4, Irene Velasco1,5, Alejandro Romero1, María José Gómez-Torres1,6

1 Department of Biotechnology, Faculty of Science, University of Alicante, Alicante 03080, Spain
2 FISABIO - University Hospital of San Juan de Alicante, Service of Gynecology and Obstetrics, San Juan de Alicante 03550, Spain
3 Department of Cell Biology and Histology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Murcia and IMIB-Arrixaca, Murcia 30100, Spain
4 IVF Spain, Reproductive Medicine, Alicante 03540, Spain
5 University Hospital of San Juan de Alicante, Service of Gynecology and Obstetrics, San Juan de Alicante 03550, Spain
6 Human Fertility Cathedra, University of Alicante, Alicante 03080, Spain

Correspondence: Dr. MJ Gómez-Torres (mjose.gomez@ua.es)

Date of Submission 06-Mar-2019 Date of Acceptance 04-Jul-2019 Date of Web Publication 15-Oct-2019


A cascade of dramatic physiological events is linked to the sperm acrosome reaction and binding to the oocyte's zona pellucida during human sperm capacitation. However, structural and functional sperm changes during capacitation currently remain poorly defined. Here, we performed a multibiomarker approach based on the utilization of sperm concentration, motility, viability, morphology, acrosome reaction, tyrosine phosphorylation, DNA fragmentation, and lectin-binding sites to analyze the impact caused by swim-up selection times (uncapacitated, 1 h capacitated, and 4 h capacitated) on sperm function and structure in normozoospermic samples. We found that a 4 h swim-up capacitation increased sperm quality, because a large number of cells with normal morphology and lower DNA fragmentation rates were recovered. Furthermore, the long-term capacitation induced a higher percentage of cells with tyrosine phosphorylation of the principal piece as well as a redistribution of lectin-binding sites. Overall, the multivariate biomarkers analyzed showed a less variable distribution on spermatozoa recovered after 4 h capacitation than that with the shorter capacitation time. These findings stress the importance of capacitation time as a relevant factor in sperm quality with potential biological reproductive implications both for basic research and in assisted reproduction techniques.

Keywords: acrosome reaction; capacitation; DNA fragmentation; glycocalyx; lectin-binding sites; membrane integrity; protein phosphorylation; sperm selection

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