Puberty has a profound effect upon the biochemical composition of the testis. We previously demonstrated that puberty was accompanied by great increases in the content of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 22:6 n-3) and dihomogamma-linoleic acid (20:3 n-6) and decreases in arachidonic acid (AA; 20:4 n-6) in the phospholipids of testis.

In this report, we analyze the composition of the phospholipid molecular species of the ethanolamine and choline glycerophospholipids in the testis of prepubertal (2 years old) and young adult (7-8 years old) monkeys, There was an increase in the DHA species and a decrease in arachidonic species. Interestingly, with few exceptions, among the three molecules with DHA or AA at the sn-2 position, only 16:0-22:6 and 18:0-20:4 changed selectively in opposite directions for both ethanolamine and choline glycerophospholipids. In contrast, there was no such selectivity seen in molecular species containing dihomogamma-linoleic acid or linoleic acid at the sn-2 position. All three dihomogamma-linoleic acid species increased and all three linoleic acid species decreased during puberty.

In summary, at puberty, i.e., the onset of spermatogenesis, there are selective changes in the phospholipid molecular species, particularly those containing DHA and AA. These changes suggest a specific functional role of DHA-containing molecular species in the lipid bilayer membranes of sperm cells. A possible link between the composition of DHA-phospholipid molecular species and cellular function is discussed.