Evaluation of ram semen quality using polyacrylamide gel instead of cervical mucus in the sperm penetration test
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Theriogenology, 2012, vol. 77, n. 8
Fertility is a very complex biological function that depends on several properties of the spermatozoa, including sperm motility. Two objectives are analyzed in this study: (1) Replace the cervical mucus by a synthetic medium in a sperm penetration test, and (2) evaluating the results of this test objectively analyzing the sperm number that migrates. In experiment 1, we have tested eight concentrations of acrylamide (1%–2%). Rheological properties of media were analyzed. The plastic straws, loaded with acrylamide, were placed vertically on the semen sample tube for 15 min at 39 °C. After, the acrylamides were placed, by segments of 5 mm, into wells of a 24-well plate, dyed with Hoechst 33342 and the number of spermatozoa were calculated by automated microscopy analysis. The 1.55% and 1.6% acrylamide gel showed a number of spermatozoa emigrating closer to that seen with natural mucus. In experiment 2, we applied the sperm penetration in acrylamide 1.6% and 1.55% using fresh semen and cooled semen at 15 °C and 5 °C. The spermatozoa counts were performed for each segment of 10 mm. Semen chilled at 15 °C presented intermediate values of sperm counts in comparison with fresh semen (higher) and 5 °C chilled semen. The sperm counts do not differ between acrylamides but the rheological properties of acrylamide 1.6% were more similar to those of the natural cervical mucus. In experiment 3, we have observed significant correlations between the number of spermatozoa and several sperm quality parameters (positive: progressive motility and velocity according to the straight path; negative: damaged acrosomes and apoptotic cells) in 1.6% acrylamide media. We conclude that the size of the cell subpopulation, objectively calculated, that migrate beyond 20 mm in 0.5-mL straws filled with acrylamide is a useful parameter in ram sperm quality assessment and further studies are needed to evaluate its relationship with field fertility.
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