Effects of cryopreservation on head morphometry and its relation with chromatin status in brown bear (Ursus arctos) spermatozoa
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Theriogenology, 2008, vol. 70, n. 9
The Cantabrian brown bear (Ursus arctos) is a highly endangered species in Spain and basic studies are necessary in order to bank its germplasm. Sperm heads are mainly made up of chromatin, thus their shape depends partly on chromatin structure. Thawed semen from 10 bears was used to analyze chromatin status by sperm chromatin structure assay (SCSA) and head morphometry by the computer-assisted sperm morphology assessment (CASMA) system. Morphometry was analyzed before and after freezing–thawing in order to evaluate the effects of cryopreservation on sperm heads. Each spermatozoon was measured for four primary parameters (length, L; width, W; area, A; perimeter, P) and derived parameters (ellipticity: L/W, circularity: 4πA/P2, elongation: (L − W)/(L + W), regularity: πLW/4A). All the derived parameters significantly differed between bears. Likewise, cryopreservation affected head morphometry by reducing its size. Clustering based on morphometric parameters separated three subpopulations, one of them being significantly more influenced by the cryopreservation process. We obtained high correlations between head morphometry and SCSA parameters: standard deviation of DNA fragmentation index (SD-DFI) was correlated with perimeter and area (r = 0.75 and r = 0.62, respectively) and DFIm and DFIt (moderate and total DNA fragmentation index) were correlated with perimeter (r = 0.65 and r = 0.67, respectively). Nevertheless, classification of males according to SCSA or head morphometry did not completely agree so the two assays might explain male variability differently. We conclude that cryopreservation affected morphometry at least in a subset of spermatozoa. These results might improve future application of sperm banking techniques in this species.
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