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Media used for equine sperm storage often contain relatively high concentrations of glucose, even though stallion spermatozoa preferentially utilize oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) over glycolysis to generate ATP and support motility. Rosiglitazone is an antidiabetic compound that enhances metabolic flexibility and glucose utilization in various cell types, but its effects on sperm metabolism are unknown. This study investigated the effects of rosiglitazone on stallion sperm function in vitro, along with the possible role of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) in mediating these effects. Spermatozoa were incubated with or without rosiglitazone, GW9662 (an antagonist of peroxisome proliferator-activating receptor-gamma), and compound C (CC; an AMPK inhibitor). Sperm motility, viability, reactive oxygen species production, mitochondrial membrane potential (mMP), ATP content, and glucose uptake capacity were measured. Samples incubated with rosiglitazone displayed significantly higher motility, percentage of cells with normal mMP, ATP content, and glucose uptake capacity, while sperm viability was unaffected. The percentage of spermatozoa positive for mitochondrial ROS was also significantly lower in rosiglitazone-treated samples. AMPK localized to the sperm midpiece, and its phosphorylation, was increased in rosiglitazone-treated spermatozoa. CC decreased sperm AMPK phosphorylation and reduced sperm motility, and successfully inhibited the effects of rosiglitazone. Inclusion of rosiglitazone in a room temperature sperm storage medium maintained sperm motility above 60% for 6 days, attaining significantly higher motility than sperm stored in control media. The ability of rosiglitazone to substantially alleviate the time-dependent deterioration of stallion spermatozoa by diverting metabolism away from OXPHOS and toward glycolysis has novel implications for the long-term, functional preservation of these cells.

Original publication




Journal article


Biol Reprod

Publication Date





AMPK, ATP, PPAR, fertility, metabolism, mitochondria, reactive oxygen species, rosiglitazone, spermatozoa, stallion, thiazolidinedione, AMP-Activated Protein Kinases, Adenosine Triphosphate, Animals, Glycolysis, Horses, Hypoglycemic Agents, Male, Membrane Potential, Mitochondrial, Mitochondria, Phosphorylation, Reactive Oxygen Species, Rosiglitazone, Semen Analysis, Sperm Motility, Spermatozoa, Thiazolidinediones