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In vitro fertilization in inbred BALB/c mice I: isotonic osmolarity and increased calcium-enhanced sperm penetration through the zona pellucida and male pronuclear formation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 August 2008

Seiji Kito*
Research Center for Radiation Protection, Department of Advanced Technologies for Radiation Protection Research, National Institute of Radiological Sciences, 4–9-Anagawa, Inage-ku, Chiba 263–8555, Japan. Department of Advanced Technologies for Radiation Protection Research, Research Center for Radiation Protection, National Institute of Radiological Sciences, Chiba, 263–8555, Japan.
Yuki Ohta
Science Services, Chiba 263–8555, Japan.
All correspondence to: Seiji Kito. Research Center for Radiation Protection, Department of Advanced Technologies for Radiation Protection Research, National Institute of Radiological Sciences, 4–9-Anagawa, Inage-ku, Chiba 263–8555, Japan. Tel: +81 43 206 3059. Fax: +81 43 251 4138. e-mail:


To optimize IVF conditions for BALB/c mice, which are known to have poor in vitro fertilizability, the requirements for sperm–ova interaction were studied by use of modified simplex optimization medium (mKSOM) as a basic medium. Modified human tubal fluid (mHTF) was used for sperm preincubation and acted as a positive control. When the two media were compared, neither capacitation nor fertilization was supported in mKSOM. Increasing the calcium concentration in mKSOM to 5 mM or more during sperm: ova coincubation improved zona penetration but not male pronuclear (MPN) formation to the same level as those cells incubated in mHTF. When medium osmolarity was varied from 230–305 mOsmol by NaCl at 5 mM CaCl2, MPN formation improved at 280 mOsmol or higher osmolarity to the same level as that found when using mHTF. When NaCl equivalent to 25–75 mOsmol was substituted with trehalose, no significant reduction in fertilization was observed. Substitution of NaCl equivalent to 75 mOsmol with other osmotic reagents (sucrose, choline chloride and sorbitol) resulted in similar levels of fertilization as found with mHTF, except for sorbitol, which reduced fertilization significantly caused by its detrimental effect on sperm viability. At isotonic osmolarity (305 mOsmol), maximum fertilization was observed at 5 mM CaCl2; lower or higher concentrations of CaCl2 resulted in reduced fertilization. Calcium and osmolarity, therefore, are important for sperm : ova interaction in BALB/c mice and the increases in calcium to 5 mM and osmolarity to 305 mOsmol are optimal for BALB/c sperm to penetrate through the zona and to form MPN.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2008

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