Activated-farnesoid X receptor (FXR) expressed in human sperm alters its fertilising ability
The farnesoid X receptor alpha (FXR) is a bile acid sensor activated by binding to endogenous bile acids including chenodeoxycholic acid (CDCA). Although, FXR is expressed in male reproductive tissue, the relevance of the receptor on reproduction is scarcely known. Here, we demonstrated the FXR presence and its action on several human sperm features. Western blot and immunofluorescence assays evidenced the FXR expression in human spermatozoa and the localisation in the middle piece. CDCA increasing concentrations and GW4064, synthetic ligand of FXR, were used to study the FXR influence on sperm motility, survival, capacitation, acrosome reaction and on glucose as well as lipid metabolism. Interestingly, our data showed that increasing concentrations of CDCA negatively affected sperm parameters, while the receptor blockage by (Z)-Guggulsterone and by the anti-FXR Ab reversed the effects. Intriguingly, elevated CDCA levels increased triglyceride content, while lipase and G6PDH activities were reduced with respect to untreated samples, thus impeding the metabolic reprogramming typical of the capacitated sperm. In conclusion, in this study, we demonstrated for the first time a novel target for FXR and that the activated receptor alters the acquisition of sperm fertilising ability. We showed that sperm itself express the FXR and it is responsive to specific ligands of the receptor; therefore, bile acids influence this cell both in male and in female genital tracts. It might be hypothesized that bile acid levels could be involved in infertility with idiopathic origin as these compounds are not systematically measured in men undergoing medically assisted procreation.
Source: The journal of Reproductive Science