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Volume 19, Issue 1 (January 2017) 19, 5–14; DOI:10.4103/1008-682X.167716

Major regulatory mechanisms involved in sperm motility

Rute Pereira, Rosália Sá, Alberto Barros, Mário Sousa

1 Department of Microscopy, Laboratory of Cell Biology, Institute of Biomedical Sciences Abel Salazar, University of Porto (ICBAS UP), Rua Jorge Viterbo Ferreira, 228, 4050-313 Porto, Portugal and Multidisciplinary Unit for Biomedical Research-UMIB, ICBAS-UP, Portugal
2 Centre for Reproductive Genetics Alberto Barros, Av. do Bessa, 240, 1o Dto. Frente, 4100-012 Porto; Department of Genetics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Porto. Alameda Prof. Hernani Monteiro, 4200-319 Porto, Portugal and Institute of Health Research an Innovation (I3S), University of Porto, Portugal

Correspondence: Dr. M Sousa (msousa@icbas.up.pt)

Date of Submission 10-Mar-2015 Date of Decision 18-Jun-2015 Date of Acceptance 15-Sep-2015 Date of Web Publication 15-Dec-2015


The genetic bases and molecular mechanisms involved in the assembly and function of the flagellum components as well as in the regulation of the flagellar movement are not fully understood, especially in humans. There are several causes for sperm immotility, of which some can be avoided and corrected, whereas other are related to genetic defects and deserve full investigation to give a diagnosis to patients. This review was performed after an extensive literature search on the online databases PubMed, ScienceDirect, and Web of Science. Here, we review the involvement of regulatory pathways responsible for sperm motility, indicating possible causes for sperm immotility. These included the calcium pathway, the cAMP-dependent protein kinase pathway, the importance of kinases and phosphatases, the function of reactive oxygen species, and how the regulation of cell volume and osmolarity are also fundamental components. We then discuss main gene defects associated with specific morphological abnormalities. Finally, we slightly discuss some preventive and treatments approaches to avoid development of conditions that are associated with unspecified sperm immotility. We believe that in the near future, with the development of more powerful techniques, the genetic causes of sperm immotility and the regulatory mechanisms of sperm motility will be better understand, thus enabling to perform a full diagnosis and uncover new therapies.

Keywords: antioxidants; calcium; membrane channels; protein kinases; sperm genetic abnormalities; sperm motility

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