An in vitro promoting role for hydrogen peroxide in human sperm capacitation


CECOS de I'OUEST, Centre Hospitalier Regional et Univenitaire de Rennes, Hotel-Dieu, rue de la Cochardiére, 35000 Rennes, France.


A complex process of maturation called capacitation is an essential step for spermatozoa to fertilize oocytes. Recent studies have shown that reactive oxygen species (ROS) can enhance the capacitation of human spermatozoa and sperm-zona interaction. We have investigated whether hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) could trigger capacitation of human spermatozoa and the acrosome reaction. The addition of catalase, a specific H202 scavenger, at the beginning of the capacitation process decreased the levels of both hyperactivation and induced-acrosome reaction whereas catalase added 15 min before the induction of the acrosome reaction by the calcium ionophore had no effect. Supplementation of the medium with H2O2 resulted in increased levels of hyperactivation and the acrosome reaction, whereas H2O2 added 15 min before induction of the acrosome reaction did not have any stimulatory effect. These results suggest that H2O2 may be involved in the capacitation process of human spermatozoa but not in the acrosome reaction.