Changes in the lipid content of boar sperm plasma membranes during epididymal maturation

Biochim Biophys Acta. 1985 May 28;815(3):486-98. doi: 10.1016/0005-2736(85)90377-3.


Plasma membranes of boar sperm from caput, corpus and cauda of the epididymis were purified by differential- and sucrose-density equilibrium centrifugation and were found to yield a single band at a density of 1.13 g/cm3. This fraction was enriched in acid and alkaline phosphatase, 5'-nucleotidase and (Na+ + K+)-ATPase activities, whereas it contained minimal amounts of hyaluronidase and N-acetylglucosaminidase and no succinic acid dehydrogenase activities. The plasma membrane of caput, corpus and cauda sperm had the same phospholipid/protein and cholesterol/phospholipid ratios but yielded different amounts of protein and individual lipid classes. Several changes in the plasma membrane were observed during transit of sperm through the epididymis. Within the phospholipid class a decrease in the percentage of phosphatidylethanolamine, phosphatidylserine and phosphatidylinositol was detected accompanied by an increase in amount of phosphatidylcholine, sphingomyelin and polyphosphoinositides. In the other lipid classes there was a decrease in the amount of free fatty acid and the major glycolipid. The amount of cholesterol decreased, while the amount of desmosterol and cholesterol sulfate increased. There was an increase in the amount of diacylglycerol. In addition, the changes in the fatty acid composition of the total membrane lipid and each phospholipid were determined. The above changes in the lipid composition of the plasma membrane during epididymal maturation may help to explain the decreased resistance to cold shock and changes in membrane fluidity of sperm during transit in the epididymis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Animals
  • Cell Fractionation
  • Cell Membrane / analysis
  • Cell Membrane / ultrastructure
  • Chromatography, Gas
  • Chromatography, Thin Layer
  • Epididymis / growth & development*
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified / analysis
  • Glycerides / analysis
  • Glycolipids / analysis
  • Male
  • Membrane Lipids / analysis*
  • Phospholipids / analysis
  • Sexual Maturation*
  • Sterols / analysis
  • Swine
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified
  • Glycerides
  • Glycolipids
  • Membrane Lipids
  • Phospholipids
  • Sterols