Light Irradiation of Mouse Spermatozoa: Stimulation of in Vitro Fertilization and Calcium Signals

Natalie Cohen, Rachel Lubart, Sara Rubinstein, Haim Breitbart

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107 Scopus citations


Irradiation of mouse spermatozoa by 630 nm He-Ne laser was found to enhance the intracellular calcium levels and fertilizing potential of these cells. The effect of light on calcium transport and on fertilization rate was abrogated in the absence of Ca2+ during the irradiation time, indicating that the effect of light is Ca2+ dependent. The stimulatory effect of light on Ca2+ uptake was abolished in the presence of a voltage-dependent Ca2+-channel inhibitor nifedipine, indicating the involvement of a plasma membrane voltage-dependent Ca2+ channel. Furthermore, the stimulatory effect of light was completely inhibited by the mitochondrial uncoupler FCCP, indicating that laser irradiation might affect the mitochondrial Ca2+ transport mechanisms. A causal association between laser irradiation, reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation and sperm function was indicated by studies with ROS scavengers, superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase, and exogenous hydrogen peroxide. The SOD treatment, which enhanced H2O2 production, resulted in increased Ca2+ uptake and enhanced fertilization rate. On the other hand, catalase, which decomposes H2O2, impaired the light-induced stimulation in Ca2+ uptake and the fertilization rate. Taken together, the data suggest that H2O2 might be involved in the irradiation effects, and indeed laser irradiation enhances the production of H2O2 by spermatozoa. These results indicate that the effect of 630 nm He-Ne laser irradiation is mediated through the generation of H2O2 by the spermatozoa and that this effect plays a significant role in the augmentation of the sperm cells' capability to fertilize metaphase II-arrested eggs in vitro.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)407-413
Number of pages7
JournalPhotochemistry and Photobiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1998


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