Endocannabinoid control of sperm motility:
The role of epididymus

Ricci G, Cacciola G, Altucci L, Meccariello R,
Pierantoni R, Fasano S, Cobellis G.
Dipartimento di Medicina Sperimentale,
Sez. "F. Bottazzi",
Laboratorio di Istologia II Universita di Napoli,
80138 Napoli, Italy.
Gen Comp Endocrinol. 2007 Feb 12;


Endocannabinoids are endogenous ligands for plasma membrane receptors (CB1 and CB2), belonging to the superfamily of G-protein-coupled receptors. They mimic some of the effects played by D9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active principle isolated from Cannabis sativa. N-arachidonoylethanolamine (anandamide, AEA) is the main endocannabinoid described to date in the testis and in human seminal plasma. However, the activity of AEA in controlling male reproduction is still poorly understood. In this study we report on physiological activity of endocannabinoids in the male reproductive tract. Using wild type (WT) and CB1 knock out mice (CB1KO) we show that endocannabinoids act in the epididymus. Here, through CB1, they inhibit sperm motility measured as the percentage of motile spermatozoa (SPZ). In particular, while in WT mice, as expected, the percentage of motile SPZ (measured in caput and cauda of epididymus) was significantly lower in the caput as compared with the cauda, in CB1KO mice a strong increase of motile SPZ in the caput was measured.

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