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Original Research

Open Access Special Issue

Expression of PPP3CC and not PPP3R2 is associated with asthenozoospermia

  • Hang Kang1,†
  • Chen Chen1,†
  • Feng-Xin Gao2
  • Xu-Hui Zeng1,2
  • Xiao-Ning Zhang1,2

1Institute of Reproductive Medicine, Medical School, Nantong University, 226001 Nantong, China

2Institute of Life Science, Nanchang University, 330031 Nanchang, China

DOI: 10.31083/jomh.2021.039 Vol.17,Issue 4,September 2021 pp.183-189

Submitted: 18 February 2021 Accepted: 10 March 2021

Published: 30 September 2021

(This article belongs to the Special Issue The factors and treatments of male infertility)

*Corresponding Author(s): Xiao-Ning Zhang E-mail:

† These authors contributed equally.


Background and objective: Protein phosphatase 3 catalytic subunit gamma (PPP3CC) and protein phosphatase 3 regulatory subunit B, beta (PPP3R2) are respectively the catalytic and regulatory subunits of calcineurin in sperm. Deficiency in either protein causes impaired sperm motility leading to male infertility. Many cases of sterility are attributed to asthenozoospermia (AZS); however, it remains unknown whether PPP3CC and PPP3R2 are related to AZS.

Material and methods: Quantitative PCR and Western blotting were used to investigate the expression levels of PPP3CC and PPP3R2 in the spermatozoa of patients with AZS and to explore the clinical significance.

Results: Two calcineurin inhibitors cyclosporine A (CsA) and tacrolimus (FK506) markedly impaired the total motility and progressive motility of human sperm, indicating that PPP3CC or PPP3R2 might be involved in AZS. PPP3CC mRNA and protein expression was lower in the ejaculated spermatozoa of patients with AZS than in normal sperm (NS). Correlation analysis showed that PPP3CC protein expression correlated positively with progressive motility (r = 0.2592, P < 0.05); however, there were no significant differences in PPP3R2 mRNA and protein levels between AZS and NS.

Conclusion: These findings suggest that the abnormal expression of PPP3CC rather than PPP3R2 might be a pathological factor or indicator in AZS. Thus, PPP3CC may be a potential therapeutic or diagnostic target for some cases of male infertility.


Asthenozoospermia; Calcineurin; PPP3CC; PPP3R2; Sperm motility; Progressive motility

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Hang Kang,Chen Chen,Feng-Xin Gao,Xu-Hui Zeng,Xiao-Ning Zhang. Expression of PPP3CC and not PPP3R2 is associated with asthenozoospermia. Journal of Men's Health. 2021. 17(4);183-189.


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