Recently, the conception rates after artificial insemination have been pointed out to decline continuously. To overcome this problem, the control of frozen and thawed sperm quality is required. However, the mechanism of bovine sperm functional regulation is still largely unknown. In mammals, the ejaculated sperm are capable of showing fertilizing ability during migration in the female reproductive organs. It is well known that these female organs secrete several factors contributing to sperm capacitation. We previously reported that neurotensin (NT) secreted from the oviduct and cumulus cells enhanced sperm capacitation and acrosome reaction in mice. In this study, we confirmed the expression of the NT receptor (NTR1) in the bovine sperm neck region and the secretion of NT in the bovine uterus and oviduct. The similar expression patterns of NT and NTR1 suggests a conserved mechanism of sperm functional regulation between mouse and cattle. Thus, we examined the effects of exogenous NT on the bovine sperm functions. First, we showed that NT induced sperm protein tyrosine phosphorylation in a dose-dependent manner, suggesting that NT enhances sperm capacitation. Second, we showed that NT induced acrosome reactions of capacitated sperm in a dose-dependent manner, suggesting that NT facilitates acrosome reaction. Finally, we used a computer-aided sperm analysis system to show that NT did not have a great effect on sperm motility. These results suggest that NT acts as a facilitator of sperm capacitation and acrosome reaction in the female reproductive tracts in cattle, highlighting the importance of NT-mediated signaling to regulate sperm functions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Animal Science and Zoology