Mammalian spermatozoa utilize ATP as the energy source for key functions on the route to fertilization. ATP and its precursor nucleotides ADP and AMP are determined in many sperm physiology studies, mostly by bioluminescence assays. Assay results vary widely, mainly due to different efficiency in nucleotide extraction and prevention of their enzymatic degradation. Here, we describe a revised, validated protocol for efficient phosphatase inhibition and adenine nucleotide extraction resulting in consistently high ATP concentrations exceeding previously reported values for boar spermatozoa up to twenty-fold. The revised assay is applicable for determining ATP concentrations and adenylate energy charge in extracts from fresh and frozen samples, thereby allowing simultaneous assessment of semen samples from long-term storage experiments. After validation, the assay was applied to liquid preserved boar spermatozoa stored at 17°C and 5°C for 24 and 72h. Cooling to 5°C, but not storage duration, reduced ATP concentration in spermatozoa (P<0.05), which was accompanied by the appearance of AMP and ADP in the preservation medium. ATP and energy charge were highly correlated to the proportion of membrane intact spermatozoa supporting the idea of nucleotides leaking through disrupted membranes in cold-shocked cells. The present assay allows highly standardized studies of energy metabolism in spermatozoa.
- Received March 7, 2016.
- Accepted September 4, 2016.
- © 2016. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd
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