Fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) and their receptors (FGFRs) regulate several functions of somatic cells. In a previous work, we reported FGFR expression in human spermatozoa and their involvement in motility. This study aimed to evaluate the presence and localization of fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF2) in human spermatozoa, to determine the relationship of FGF2 levels with conventional semen parameters and to assess the effect of recombinant FGF2 (rFGF2) on sperm recovery in a selection procedure. Western immunoblotting analysis using an antibody against FGF2 revealed an 18-kDa band in sperm protein extracts. The protein was immunolocalized in the sperm flagellum and acrosomal region, as well as in all germ cells. Sperm FGF2 levels, assessed by flow cytometry, showed a positive (p < 0.05) correlation with sperm concentration, motility, total sperm number and total motile cells per ejaculate. Moreover, samples with abnormal motility depicted diminished (p < 0.01) FGF2 levels compared to those with normal motility. Spermatozoa exposed to rFGF2 bound the protein, exhibited higher (p < 0.05) total and motile sperm recoveries, and increased (p < 0.01) kinematic parameters after the swim-up. Findings herein presented lead to consider sperm FGF2 level as a potential marker of sperm quality, and rFGF2 as a supplement for improving sperm recovery in selection techniques.
Keywords: FGF2; fibroblast growth factor 2; motility; spermatozoa; swim-up.
© 2017 American Society of Andrology and European Academy of Andrology.