Novel methods to detect capacitation-related changes in spermatozoa

Naomi C Bernecic*, Bart M Gadella, Tamara Leahy, Simon P de Graaf

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


    Prior to interaction with the oocyte, spermatozoa must undergo capacitation, which involves a series of physio-chemical transformations that occur in the female tract. As capacitation is a pre-requisite for successful fertilisation, it is a topic of great interest for sperm biologists, but the complexity of the numerous biochemical and biophysical processes involved make it difficult to measure. Capacitation is an extremely complex event that encompasses numerous integrated processes that can occur concurrently during this window of time. The identification of techniques to accurately assess and quantify capacitation is therefore crucial to gain a meaningful insight into this fascinating sperm maturation event. Whilst there are extensive reviews in the literature that focus on the functional changes to spermatozoa during capacitation, few have examined the methods required to measure these changes. The aim of this review is to highlight frequently used methods to quantify different stages of capacitation and identify promising novel techniques. Factors that are able to modulate various capacitation processes will also be discussed. The overall outcome is to provide researchers with a toolbox of methods that can be used to gain a deeper understanding of the intricacies of capacitation in spermatozoa.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)56-66
    Number of pages11
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019


    • Capacitation
    • Plasma membrane modifications
    • Cholesterol efflux
    • Tyrosine phosphorylation
    • Hyperactivation
    • Acrosome reaction


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