Liposomes are artificial membrane vesicles that can be used to test and model the functions and interactions of various biological membranes, or as a carrier system to deliver biologically active substances into the cells, or to incorporate lipids into the plasma membrane of target cells to modify membrane structure–function relationships. Sperm plasma membrane undergoes lipid modification during maturation in epididymis and during capacitation in the female reproductive tract to facilitate fertilization. Natural variation in the amounts and composition of lipids in the sperm plasma membrane may also contribute to the species-specific sperm sensitivities to handling and storage conditions. Boar sperm are notoriously susceptible to membrane damage and are resistant to compositional alteration by artificial liposomes.
This study used flow cytometry to demonstrate stable incorporation of nanoliposomes prepared from a complex mixture of various phospholipids (phosphatidylcholine : phosphatidylethanolamine : sphingomyelin : phosphatidylserine : phosphatidylinositol) with high fusion efficiency. Over 90% of sperm rapidly took up fluorescently labelled liposomes and retained the lipids for at least 60 min, in a significant time- and concentration-dependent manner.
This unique fusion efficacy could be used to alter sperm plasma membrane composition and hence membrane-based functional responses.
Kasimanickam, V. and Buhr, M. (2016), Fusion of Boar Sperm with Nanoliposomes Prepared from Synthetic Phospholipids. Reprod Dom Anim, 51: 461–466. doi:10.1111/rda.12702