Negative effects of ROS generated during linear sperm motility on gene expression and ATP generation in boar sperm mitochondria.
Mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) is essential for ATP production to maintain sperm linear motility during migration from the uterus to the oviduct. However, ROS are generated as by-products of OXPHOS, causing stress and damaging the sperm quality. This study aimed to clarify the ROS targets in sperm mitochondria that decrease linear motility and to investigate whether mitochondria-target antioxidants (PQQ and CoQ10) affect mitochondrial activity and sperm motility. Sperm linear motility pattern, ATP production, and mitochondrial activity were decreased with increasing ROS levels during incubation in the low-glucose medium. However, sperm motility patterns and ROS levels were not significantly changed in the high-glucose medium. Moreover, the gene expression system (mt-DNA, mitochondrial transcription factor-A (TFAM) and RNA polymerase (POLRMT)) in sperm mitochondria was damaged during incubation in the low-glucose medium. Interestingly, PQQ treatment increased the mt-DNA stability and decreased the damage to TFAM and POLRMT, which resulted in high expression of mitochondrial genes. Furthermore, the antioxidants increased mitochondrial activity and maintained sperm linear motility under the low glucose condition. These results revealed that both ATP production and the mitochondrial transcription system are damaged with increasing ROS levels in sperm that show a linear motility pattern. Treatment with antioxidants, such as PQQ and CoQ10, is beneficial tool to maintain sperm linear motility.