Major regulatory mechanisms involved in sperm motility

Asian J Androl. 2017 Jan-Feb;19(1):5-14. doi: 10.4103/1008-682X.167716.


The genetic bases and molecular mechanisms involved in the assembly and function of the flagellum components as well as in the regulation of the flagellar movement are not fully understood, especially in humans. There are several causes for sperm immotility, of which some can be avoided and corrected, whereas other are related to genetic defects and deserve full investigation to give a diagnosis to patients. This review was performed after an extensive literature search on the online databases PubMed, ScienceDirect, and Web of Science. Here, we review the involvement of regulatory pathways responsible for sperm motility, indicating possible causes for sperm immotility. These included the calcium pathway, the cAMP-dependent protein kinase pathway, the importance of kinases and phosphatases, the function of reactive oxygen species, and how the regulation of cell volume and osmolarity are also fundamental components. We then discuss main gene defects associated with specific morphological abnormalities. Finally, we slightly discuss some preventive and treatments approaches to avoid development of conditions that are associated with unspecified sperm immotility. We believe that in the near future, with the development of more powerful techniques, the genetic causes of sperm immotility and the regulatory mechanisms of sperm motility will be better understand, thus enabling to perform a full diagnosis and uncover new therapies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Cell Size
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways
  • Osmolar Concentration
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Sperm Motility / physiology*
  • Sperm Tail / metabolism
  • Sperm Tail / physiology*
  • Sperm Tail / ultrastructure
  • Spermatozoa / metabolism
  • Spermatozoa / physiology*
  • Ubiquinone / analogs & derivatives
  • Ubiquinone / therapeutic use
  • Vitamin E / therapeutic use
  • Vitamins / therapeutic use


  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Vitamins
  • Ubiquinone
  • Vitamin E
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases
  • coenzyme Q10
  • Calcium