Taurine maintains and stimulates motility of hamster sperm during capacitation in vitro

R J Mrsny, L Waxman, S Meizel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is known that hamster sperm require an unidentified low molecular weight “factor” found in several cells and tissue types in order to remain strongly motile during in vitro capacitation. The β-amino acid taurine (2-aminoethane sulfonic acid) is present in a partially purified “factor” from bovine adrenal glands and can substitute for that “factor” in maintaining and stimulating hamster sperm motility. Incubation of washed hamster sperm with bovine serum albumin and 2 × 10−3 to 2 × 10−5M taurine for periods of approximately 5 hr. resulted in a higher number of strongly motile sperm compared to controls in the absence of exogenous taurine. Incubation of sperm with (-)epinephrine in the absence of taurine resulted in nearly all sperm becoming immotile. Activation (whiplash flagellar movement characteristic of capacitated hamster sperm) did not occur in the absence of taurine, but high percentages of activation occurred in the presence of 2 × 10−3, 2−10−4 and 2 × 10−5M taurine. Acrosome reactions occurred in the presence of taurine, even in the absence of (-)-epinephrine. However, (-)-epinephrine, previously shown to stimulate activation and acrosome reactions, was required for the maximum number of the latter. These results suggest that in addition to its importance for motility taurine might stimulate capacitation. The mechanism through which taurine supports and stimulates motility is not yet known, but its use results in the first relatively “defined” in vitro capacitation medium for hamster sperm.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-8
Number of pages6
JournalThe Journal of Experimental Zoology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 1979


  • Acrosome/drug effects
  • Animals
  • Cricetinae
  • Epinephrine/pharmacology
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Male
  • Sperm Capacitation
  • Sperm Motility/drug effects
  • Spermatozoa/drug effects
  • Taurine/pharmacology


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