Ceramides with 2-hydroxylated, very long-chain polyenoic fatty acids in rodents: From testis to fertilization-competent spermatozoa.

PMID 20831891


Sphingolipids from rodent testis and spermatozoa are known to contain non-hydroxylated (N-) and 2-hydroxylated (2-OH) very-long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (VLCPUFA). In this study, the contribution of species with each type of fatty acids to the total ceramides (Cer) and sphingomyelins (SM) was investigated in rat and mouse testis and in rat spermatozoa. The major VLCPUFA in both lipids of testis were N- and 2-OH versions of 28:4n-6, 30:5n-6 and 32:5n-6 in the rat, and predominantly of 30:5n-6 in the mouse. Absent altogether from rat pre-puberal testes, SM and Cer with N-VLCPUFA appeared 10 days earlier than those with 2-OH VLCPUFA in postnatal development, in association with germ cell differentiation. Conversely, in adult fertile rats that were gradually deprived of germ cells in vivo after treatment with doxorubicin, SM and Cer with N-VLCPUFA decreased earlier than their 2-OH counterparts, and neither was present in aspermatogenic testes. In rat epididymal spermatozoa, the content of Cer prevailed over that of SM and 2-OH VLCPUFA prevailed over N-VLCPUFA in both lipids. In mature gametes, the acrosomal reaction resulted in an almost complete hydrolysis of the species of SM that contain both types of VLCPUFA to produce the corresponding Cer. Ceramides are biosynthetic precursors of SM in the testis, but themselves final products in spermatozoa. VLCPUFA-rich SM and Cer are thus produced in germ cells with the teleological objective of fulfilling their ultimate physiological role in spermatozoa that are apt and ready to fertilize an oocyte.

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DL-α-Hydroxystearic acid, ≥99%