Calcitonin acts as a first messenger to regulate adenylyl cyclase/cAMP and mammalian sperm function.
Calcitonin stimulates capacitation in uncapacitated mouse spermatozoa and then inhibits spontaneous acrosome loss in capacitated cells, responses similar to those elicited by fertilization promoting peptide (FPP), a peptide known to regulate the adenylyl cyclase/cAMP pathway. This study investigated the hypothesis that calcitonin also modulates this pathway. Calcitonin significantly stimulated cAMP production in uncapacitated spermatozoa and then inhibited it in capacitated cells; the magnitude of both stimulatory and inhibitory changes was similar to that obtained with FPP but the inhibitory responses to FPP preceded those of calcitonin. This possibly reflects the involvement of two different adenosine receptors in response to FPP compared with one calcitonin receptor. Calcitonin receptors were located on the acrosomal cap and the flagellum, the midpiece having a greater abundance than the principal piece. Although both calcitonin and adenosine receptors are found in the head and flagellum, there was no evidence for cross-talk between them. Chlortetracycline investigations to determine the minimum extracellular Ca(2+) requirement for responses to calcitonin revealed that calcitonin significantly stimulated capacitation in Ca(2+)-deficient medium but FPP did not. Calcitonin also significantly stimulated cAMP production under these conditions, and similarly preincubated suspensions, when diluted into +Ca(2+) medium, were significantly more fertile in vitro than untreated controls. These results indicate that calcitonin, like FPP, acts as a first messenger to regulate the production of cAMP and mammalian sperm function, but the differences in Ca(2+) requirements suggest that calcitonin and FPP may regulate different isoforms of adenylyl cyclase.