Biphasic effect of GABA on rat sperm acrosome reaction: Involvement of GABAA and GABA B receptors

J. H. Hu, X. B. He, Q. Wu, Yuan Chang Yan, S. S. Koide

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


The functional relationship between GABAA and GABAB receptors in regulating acrosome reaction (AR) of rat spermatozoa was demonstrated by studying the differential effects of a GABAB agonist and an antagonist on the process. AR rates were determined using the chlortetracycline staining assay. The induction of AR in rat sperm by GABA was found to be a biphasic phenomenon; i.e., AR rates increased with increasing GABA concentrations up to 5 μM), there was a reductionin the AR rates. This biphasic phenomenon is apparently due to the differential interaction of the neurotransmitter with GABA receptor subtypes in a dose-dependent manner; i.e., GABAA receptors (stimulatory) are primarily activated at low concentration of GABA, while GABAB receptors (inhibitory) become activated at higher concentrations. This hypothesis is supported by the present findings that treatment with saclofen, a GABAB receptor antagonist, did not influence the AR rates effected by GABA at low concentrations; while the AR rates were maintained at the maximum level at higher concentrations of GABA, resulting in the elimination of the biphasic phenomenon. Baclofen, a GABA B receptor agonist, blocks the AR activating action of GABA at both low and high concentrations. It would appear that the induction of AR in rat sperm by GABA is regulated by the proportionality of activated GABAA and GABAB receptors acting as a yin-yang control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)369-378
Number of pages10
JournalSystems Biology in Reproductive Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • baclofen
  • capacitation
  • chlortetracycline staining
  • fertilization
  • saclofen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Urology


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