Hypo-osmotic shock induces an osmolality-dependent permeabilization and structural changes in the membrane of carp sperm

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We carried out spectrofluorimetric and flow cytometric measurements to investigate the effect of hypo-osmotic shock on cell membranes of common carp sperm. The time course of the permeability of the sperm cell membrane, as monitored by DNA-related propidium iodide (PI) fluorescence, was followed for 30 min after dilution of semen in hypo-osmotic environments of different ionic strengths. Spectrofluorimetric measurements indicated a continuous increase in the total PI emission intensity of a sperm suspension. Cell-by- cell flow cytometric measurements suggested that the permeability changes were of the all-or-none type. The permeabilized fraction of cells in the individual samples was time and osmolality dependent. The number and percentage of cells in which DNA was stained by PI increased gradually over time and reached a steady-state plateau value after 5-15 min. This equilibrium fraction of cells with a PI-permeable cytoplasmic membrane displayed an inverse relationship with the osmolality of the diluent, having a near 100% value for fresh water and distilled water. Dilution of sperm in hypo-osmotic medium brought about a fast decrease in the forward light- scattering signal on a short time scale compared to the pre-steady-state time of the permeabilization. With the addition of extracellular Ca2+ (1.8 mM), restoration of the light scattering signal was observed. Permeabilization of the membrane and restoration of light scattering were not coincident in time. We propose a two-dimensional reorganization of the lipid structure as the underlying mechanism of the latter process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-297
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Histochemistry and Cytochemistry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1993


  • Carp sperm
  • Flow cytometry
  • Hypo-osmotic shock
  • Membrane structure
  • Permeabilization
  • Spectrofluorimetry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Histology

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