Letter | Published:

Uterine Changes during Capacitation in the Golden Hamster


‘CAPACITATION’ was defined by Chang1 as the final maturation of spermatozoa in the female genital tract. Since Chang's report considerable research has been directed towards this phenomenon2,3. Capacitation has been observed outside the female tract in such areas as the eye or urinary bladder4 as well as in vitro with follicular fluid5 or eosinophils6. The viability of ejaculated sperm is determined by factors such as levels of oestrogen and progesterone7, and the phase of the oestrous cycle, including the different positions in the female genital tract8. Hunter9 has recently demonstrated in hamsters that ejaculated spermatozoa exposed to oestrous uterus underwent capacitation with a high rate of zona penetration. He concluded that an incubation effect occurred directly between the uterine environment and the spermatozoa. Even though the epididymal sperm were capacitated, they were not very fertile9. It seems that for normal fertilization the uterine environment and seminal plasma are indispensable factors. In studying mammalian fertilization I became interested in the role of the uterine epithelium in capacitation. This preliminary report describes uterine changes during capacitation. A detailed report will be published elsewhere.

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