Secretion patterns and effect of prostate-derived granules on the sperm acrosome reaction of rabbit buck.

PMID 22704388


There is increasing evidence that the particulate fraction of seminal plasma plays an important role in reproduction of several mammalian species. However, the origin and role of these granules in the physiology of rabbit spermatozoa is partially unknown. The aim of this study was to investigate the implication of prostate gland in the production and secretion of granules into the rabbit semen and the role of prostate-derived granules in the sperm acrosome reaction. Light and electron microscopy of the prostate gland showed that the anterior and middle tracts of the prostate (namely the proprostate and prostate, respectively) are chiefly implicated in the secretion of granules of different size: smaller granules (SG; 0.5 μm) and large granules (LG; 4 μm). Two major patterns of secretion were identified, based on electron microscope views: storage granules (large granules) seem to empty inner smaller granules directly into the duct by exocytosis, or the storage vesicle itself is released in toto into the ducts (diacytosis). In vitro experiments using granules from vasectomized rabbits, to exclude testicular origin of granules, showed that granules reduce the acrosome reaction of Percoll-selected spermatozoa, independently of the size. Interestingly, spermatozoa incubated with heat-treated granules showed a higher sperm acrosome reaction rate, suggesting a potential role of granule-derived proteins in this process. Inhibition of the acrosome reaction is a crucial event in rabbit reproduction; ejaculated spermatozoa have to wait for a long time (8-16 h) for egg availability in the female tract after mating. Taking together, our results demonstrate that prostate granules secreted either by exocytosis or diacytosis can preserve spermatozoa fertilizing ability, by preventing sperm acrosome reaction. The type of granule-derived proteins or other macromolecules implicated in this process should be further investigated.