To investigate human sperm responsiveness to the estrogenic xenobiotic genistein and seek further information regarding the mechanism of action of estrogenic xenobiotics using mouse spermatozoa.METHODS
Uncapacitated human spermatozoa were incubated with genistein and assessed using chlortetracycline (CTC) fluorescence. CTC was also used to evaluate mouse sperm responses to daidzein and combinations of genistein, 8-prenylnaringenin and nonylphenol. Several steroids were tested to determine structure–function relationships, and possible involvement of cAMP and G proteins in responses was also investigated.RESULTS
Genistein significantly accelerated capacitation and acrosome loss in human spermatozoa, with 1, 10 and 100 nmol/l being equally effective. In mouse spermatozoa, daidzein produced significant responses, and combinations of xenobiotics at low concentrations were more effective than used singly. The compounds appear to act at the cell surface, and responses to three different steroids were nonidentical. A protein kinase-A inhibitor blocked responses to xenobiotics, while genistein and nonylphenol significantly stimulated cAMP production. Pertussis toxin and dideoxyadenosine blocked responses, suggesting involvement of inhibitory G proteins and membrane-associated adenylyl cyclases.CONCLUSION
Human and mouse sperm responses to genistein are very similar, but human gametes appear to be even more sensitive. The mechanism of action may involve unregulated stimulation of cAMP production, leading to significant acrosome loss, undesirable because already acrosome-reacted cells are nonfertilizing. Xenobiotics were even more effective in combination. Since simultaneous exposure to low concentrations of multiple xenobiotics is likely to occur in animals and humans, further investigation is needed to determine whether this could impair fertility.