Is there a role for endocannabinoids in sperm-oviduct interaction?Reproduction. 2010 Aug; 140(2):247-57.R
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) has been found in reproductive cells and tissues in several mammals. Spermatozoa are able to respond to anandamide, and the oviduct is able to synthesize and modulate the concentration of this endocannabinoid along the isthmic and ampullary regions. The main aim of this study was to understand whether the ECS has a role during sperm storage and release within the oviduct in cattle. Data showed that 1) the endocannabinoid receptors 1 and 2 (CB1 and CB2) are present in bovine spermatozoa both in the initial ejaculate and in spermatozoa bound to the oviduct in vitro; 2) CB1 receptor is still detectable in spermatozoa released from the oviduct through penicillamine but not in those released through heparin; 3) arachidonylethanolamide (AEA) does not affect sperm viability, whereas it depresses sperm progressive motility and kinetic values; 4) sperm-oviduct binding and release in vitro are not influenced by AEA; 5) AEA depresses sperm-zona pellucida (ZP) binding; 6) binding of heparin-capacitated spermatozoa to the ZP is not affected by AEA; 7) N-acylphosphatidylethanolamine-selective phospholipase D, the main enzyme involved in anandamide synthesis, is expressed in oviductal epithelial cells. In conclusion, secretion of AEA from epithelial cells might contribute to the oviduct sperm-reservoir function, prolonging the sperm fertile life through the depression of motility and capacitation. Capacitation signals, such as heparin, that promote sperm release, might remodel the sperm surface and cause a loss of the sperm sensitivity to AEA.