Involvement of oviduct in sperm capacitation and oocyte development in pigs.

H. Rodriguez-Martinez, P. Tienthai, K. Suzuki, H. Funahashi, H. Ekwall, A. Johannisson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

98 Citations (Scopus)


An overview is presented on the structure and function of the pig oviduct in relation to sperm capacitation and oocyte development in vivo. In pigs, a functional sperm reservoir is established in the uterotubal junction-isthmus when sperm deposition occurs before ovulation. Capacitation is assumed to occur in this location, and spermatozoa progress towards the ampullary-isthmic junction at about the time of ovulation as a consequence of capacitation and hyperactivation. Preliminary data from our laboratory on viable spermatozoa retrieved from the sperm reservoir and the ampullary-isthmic junction of mated sows at pre- and periovulation oestrus showed that the largest subpopulation (60-90%) was of uncapacitated spermatozoa (using merocyanine-540), whereas 6-37% of the gated cells were capacitated spermatozoa. Incubation in a capacitation-inducing medium (bicarbonate-containing modified Brackett-Oliphant medium; mBO) for < 30 min effected capacitation readily, more markedly in ampullary-isthmic junction samples than in samples from the uterotubal junction, thereby indicating that uncapacitated spermatozoa responded to the addition of the effector bicarbonate at concentrations similar to those recorded in the periovulatory ampullary-isthmic junction in vivo. Addition of preovulatory isthmic oviductal fluid and hyaluronan under a similar incubation regimen maintained tubal sperm viability without obvious induction of capacitation. This finding indicates that, before ovulation, the intraluminal fluid of the sperm reservoir might delay sperm capacitation, perhaps because of its hyaluronan content. Evidence is presented that the sperm population in the oviduct undergoes capacitation under particular conditions in the upper tubal compartments. The diverse response of spermatozoa to capacitation stimuli helps to ensure full rates of fertilization in vivo. Data are also provided on the importance of final zona pellucida maturation in the pig oviduct to warrant proper zona pellucida reaction after sperm penetration, which would address in part the abnormal occurrence of polyspermy in in vitro fertilization of pigs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-145
Number of pages17
JournalReproduction (Cambridge, England) Supplement
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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