Lipoperoxidation damage of spermatozoa polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA): scavenger mechanisms and possible scavenger therapies.

A. Lenzi, L. Gandini, M. Picardo, F. Tramer, G. Sandri, E. Panfili

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The lipid metabolism in sperm cells is important both as one of the main sources for energy production and for cell structure. The double leaflets of the membrane should be considered not simply as a passive lipid film, but as a very specialized structure. The complete maturation of the sperm cell membrane is attained after testicular lipid biosynthetic processes and after passage through the epididymis. A special composition of membrane phospholipids, rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), and the different composition of sperm and immature germ cell membrane are described and discussed. Testis germ cells as well as epididymal maturing spermatozoa are endowed with enzymatic and non-enzymatic scavenger systems to prevent lipoperoxidative damage. Catalase, superoxide dismutase and GSH-dependent oxidoreductases are present in variable amounts in the different developmental stages. Phospholipid hydroperoxide GSH peroxidase (PHGPx) activity and alpha tochopherol of epididymal spermatozoa are considered in detail. Their distribution and roles in caput and cauda epididymal sperm cells are discussed. Seminal plasma also has a highly specialized scavenger system that defends the sperm membrane against lipoperoxidation and the degree of PUFA insaturation acts to achieve the same goal. Systemic predisposition and a number of pathologies can lead to an anti-oxidant/pro-oxidant disequilibrium. Scavengers, such as GSH, can be used to treat these cases as they can restore the physiological constitution of PUFA in the cell membrane. The results of GSH therapy are presented and discussed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFrontiers in Bioscience
Publication statusPublished - 2000


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