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Vertebrate reproductive science and technology

45 DNA Fragmentation of Epididymal Freeze-Dried Ram Spermatozoa Impairs Embryo Development

L. Palazzese A , D. A. Anzalone A , J. Gosálvez´ B , P. Loi A and J. Saragusty C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Teramo, Teramo, Italy;

B Genetics Unit, Department of Biology, University Autónoma of Madrid, Cantoblanco, Madrid, Spain;

C Department of Reproduction Management, Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Berlin, Germany

Reproduction, Fertility and Development 30(1) 162-162
Published: 4 December 2017


Sperm freeze-drying is a revolutionary technique that resolves many of the drawback of long-term storage under liquid nitrogen. The first significant result of this method was provided by Wakayama and Yanagimachi (1998 Nat. Biotechnol. 16, 639-641, 10.1038/nbt0798-639), demonstrating for the first time the birth of healthy offspring from epididymal freeze-dried (mouse) spermatozoa. Besides models in the mouse and rat, which are the first small mammals born from epididymal lyophilized sperm by intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), most studies in this field have used ejaculated sperm. In this work, aiming to repeat the result of Wakayama and Yanagimachi, we tried to apply this technique to epididymal spermatozoa from a large mammal (ram). Moreover, we checked the correlation between freeze-dried spermatozoa DNA integrity and embryo development. To do this, epididymal sperm from 4 rams was lyophilized in a medium containing trehalose, glucose, KCl, HEPES, and Trolox. To evaluate DNA damage and fragmentation at rehydration, part of the sperm was processed for sperm chromatin dispersion test (SCD) and two-tailed comet assay and the rest was used for ICSI. Compared with rams 1 and 3, rams 2 and 4 had higher rate of spermatozoa with intact DNA (median: 3.3% v. 16.5%, respectively), lower rate of single strand breaks (SSB; median: 94.2% v. 81.5%, respectively) and lower rate of double-strand breaks (DSB; median: 2.5% v. 2%, respectively). Embryo development following ICSI showed that blastocyst stage was reached only from rams that had sperm with more intact DNA: ram 2 (4.8%, n = 83) and ram 4 (6.3%, n = 64). Spermatozoa from rams 1 and 3 produced no blastocysts. This can be explained by the fact that rams 2 and 4 had higher rate of spermatozoa with intact DNA than rams 1 and 3. Definitively, the implication of sperm DNA damage in embryonic development should depend on the balance between the extent of sperm DNA fragmentation, the type of fragmentation (SSB or DSB), and the oocyte’s repair capacity. Rams 2 and 4 were the only rams that produced blastocyst probably because they had considerably more sperm with normal DNA; thus, it is important to select spermatozoa of the best quality to perform a good ICSI. Fragmentation of DNA due to the lyophilization process impairs embryonic development. To conclude, oocytes injected with epididymal freeze-dried ram spermatozoa can reach the blastocyst stage. These are preliminary results; more conclusive outcomes will be given following embryo transfer experiments that are now in progress.

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