Calcium channels and Ca2+ fluctuations in sperm physiology

Int Rev Cytol. 2005;243:79-172. doi: 10.1016/S0074-7696(05)43002-8.


Generating new life in animals by sexual reproduction depends on adequate communication between mature and competent male and female gametes. Ion channels are instrumental in the dialogue between sperm, its environment, and the egg. The ability of sperm to swim to the egg and fertilize it is modulated by ion permeability changes induced by environmental cues and components of the egg outer layer. Ca(2+) is probably the key messenger in this information exchange. It is therefore not surprising that different Ca(2+)-permeable channels are distinctly localized in these tiny specialized cells. New approaches to measure sperm currents, intracellular Ca(2+), membrane potential, and intracellular pH with fluorescent probes, patch-clamp recordings, sequence information, and heterologous expression are revealing how sperm channels participate in fertilization. Certain sperm ion channels are turning out to be unique, making them attractive targets for contraception and for the discovery of novel signaling complexes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / physiology*
  • Calcium Channels / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Biological
  • Sperm Capacitation / physiology
  • Sperm Motility / physiology
  • Spermatogenesis
  • Spermatozoa / physiology*


  • Calcium Channels
  • Calcium