Effect of storage method and extender osmolality in the quality of cryopreserved epididymal ram spermatozoa
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Animal Reproduction Science, 2011, vol. 129, n. 3–4
Post-mortem sperm recovery and cryopreservation could be a complement to germplasm banking in sheep, especially for endangered breeds. This study is an attempt to identify factors for improving the success of cryopreserving ram epididymal spermatozoa, considering the decrease of sperm quality with post-mortem time. Epididymal spermatozoa from 9 rams were kept at 5 °C using three storage methods: within the epididymes, undiluted sperm mass, and diluted in extenders of different osmolality (TES–Tris–fructose at 320, 370 or 420 mOsm/kg, 20% egg yolk, 8% glycerol). At 0, 24, 48 and 72 h, spermatozoa were cryopreserved using each extender. Samples were analyzed before and after cryopreservation by CASA (motility) and flow cytometry (viability and acrosomal status). Post-mortem time decreased pre-freezing and post-thawing sperm quality. Some storage × extender combinations improved the effect of post-mortem time on sperm quality. Both epididymis storage combined with the 420 extender, and storing the spermatozoa diluted in the 320 extender improved post-thawing quality, especially at long post-mortem times. Storing the spermatozoa diluted in the 370 extender was detrimental for the acrosomal status. These findings have practical applications. The simplest storage method (within the epididymes) seems to be adequate if hyperosmotic extenders were used for freezing. An alternative method could be storing the spermatozoa diluted in a hypoosmotic extender. These recommendations are limited to the osmolalities tested in this study (420 mOsm/kg and 320 mOsm/kg); other osmolalities should be tested.
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