Liver X Receptors (LXRs) Alpha and Beta Play Distinct Roles in the Mouse Epididymis

Biol Reprod. 2016 Mar;94(3):55. doi: 10.1095/biolreprod.115.133538. Epub 2016 Jan 20.


After its production in the testis, a spermatozoon has to undergo posttesticular maturation steps to become fully motile and fertile. The first step is epididymal maturation, during which immature spermatozoa are transformed into biochemically mature cells ready to proceed to the next step, capacitation, a physiological process occurring in the female genital tract. The biochemical transformations include modification of sperm lipid composition during epididymal transit, with significant changes in fatty acids, phospholipids, and sterols between the caput and the cauda epididymal spermatozoa. Although quantitative aspects of these changes are well documented for several mammalian species, molecular mechanisms governing these steps are poorly understood. Transgenic male mice invalidated for the two liver X receptors (LXRalpha and LXRbeta, nuclear oxysterol receptors regulating cholesterol and lipid metabolism) become sterile when aging, showing an epididymal phenotype. We used single-knockout-model mice to characterize the role of each LXR isoform during sperm maturation in the epididymis. We show here that although a certain redundancy exists in the functions of the two LXR isoforms, some physiological processes are more under the influence of only one of them. In both cases, aging males showed slight subfertility, associated with dyslipidemia, emphasizing the importance of lipid metabolism in relation with male fertility.

Keywords: LXR; cholesterol homeostasis; epididymis; inflammation; lipids; spermatozoa.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Animals
  • Cholesterol / metabolism
  • Epididymis / metabolism*
  • Epididymis / pathology
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology*
  • Homeostasis
  • Infertility, Male / genetics
  • Infertility, Male / metabolism
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Liver X Receptors / genetics
  • Liver X Receptors / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Rate
  • Protein Isoforms


  • Liver X Receptors
  • Protein Isoforms
  • Cholesterol