The properties of rabbit sperm membranes in contact with electrode surfaces
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In dilute suspensions of sperm cells there is electrode noise due to the changes in the electrical double layer during contacts of the suspended cells with the electrode surface. The noise frequency, the number of current fluctuations above one nanoampere per unit time, depends upon the concentration of cells, the potential at the electrode surface and the presence of adsorbed material at the electrode. We have studied the electrode noise due to suspensions of rabbit sperm cells, and have obtained information about the properties of the cell membranes and their ability to adsorb or interact with substances in the environment. The observed differences in the noise frequency between ejaculated and epididymal sperm cells indicate that the ejaculated sperm cell does not adsorb material as readily. The titration of sperm cell suspensions with Zn++ ions shows a lower negative surface charge on the epididymal sperm cell, in agreement with published values on cell electrophoresis. The experiments reported here demonstrate that there are significant changes in the membranes of sperm cells at the later stages of maturation which are independent of membrane charge and affect the ability of the cells to adsorb material. Such adsorption processes could be the first stages of physiological processes (e.g. “sperm capacitation”, “acrosome reaction”) that are known to occurin vivo, and that play important roles in fertilization.
KeywordsElectrode Surface Surface Charge Double Layer Physiological Process Adsorption Process
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