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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 902953, 8 pages
Review Article

Bioenergetics of Mammalian Sperm Capacitation

Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Biologiche ed Ambientali, Università del Salento, Via Provinciale Lecce-Monteroni, 73100 Lecce, Italy

Received 1 January 2014; Revised 2 March 2014; Accepted 3 March 2014; Published 25 March 2014

Academic Editor: Nicola Bernabò

Copyright © 2014 Alessandra Ferramosca and Vincenzo Zara. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


After ejaculation, the mammalian male gamete must undergo the capacitation process, which is a prerequisite for egg fertilization. The bioenergetics of sperm capacitation is poorly understood despite its fundamental role in sustaining the biochemical and molecular events occurring during gamete activation. Glycolysis and mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) are the two major metabolic pathways producing ATP which is the primary source of energy for spermatozoa. Since recent data suggest that spermatozoa have the ability to use different metabolic substrates, the main aim of this work is to present a broad overview of the current knowledge on the energy-producing metabolic pathways operating inside sperm mitochondria during capacitation in different mammalian species. Metabolism of glucose and of other energetic substrates, such as pyruvate, lactate, and citrate, is critically analyzed. Such knowledge, besides its obvious importance for basic science, could eventually translate into the development of novel strategies for treatment of male infertility, artificial reproduction, and sperm selection methods.