Glutathione S-transferases play a crucial role in mitochondrial function, plasma membrane stability and oxidative regulation of mammalian sperm

Glutathione S-transferases (GSTs) are essential sperm antioxidant enzymes involved in cell protection against oxidative stress and toxic chemicals, preserving sperm function and fertilising ability. Artificial insemination (AI) in pigs is commonly carried out through the use of liquid-stored semen at 17 °C, which not only reduces sperm metabolic activity but also sperm quality and AI-farrowing rates within the 72 h of storage. While one may reasonably suggest that such enzymes are implicated in the physiology and maintenance of mammalian sperm function during liquid-storage, no previous studies conducted on any species have addressed this hypothesis. Therefore, the objective of the present work was to characterise the presence and function of sperm GSTs in mammalian sperm, using the pig as a model. In this regard, inhibition of such enzymes by ethacrynic acid (EA) during semen storage at 17 °C was performed to evaluate the effects of GSTs in liquid-preserved boar sperm by flow cytometry, immunofluorescence, and immunoblotting analysis. The results of this study have shown, for the first time in mammalian species, that the inhibition of GSTs reduces sperm quality and functionality parameters during their storage at 17 °C. These findings highlight the key role of such enzymes, especially preserving mitochondrial function and maintaining plasma membrane stability. In addition, this study has identified and localised GSTM3 in the tail and equatorial subdomain of the head of boar sperm. Finally, this study has set grounds for future investigations testing supplementation of semen extenders with GSTs, as this may improve fertility outcomes of swine AIs ​
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