Reproduction, Fertility and Development Reproduction, Fertility and Development Society
Vertebrate reproductive science and technology


F. A. Oliveira Neto B , M. Nichi A , E. G. A. Perez A , J. R. C. Gurgel B , G. H. Ferreira B , A. C. Teodoro A , R. O. C. Silva A , V. H. Barnabe A , R. C. Barnabe A , D. M. C. Pesce B and C. H. C. Viana B
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A University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil;

B Pontifícia Universidade Católica, Poços de Caldas, MG, Brazil

Reproduction, Fertility and Development 22(1) 213-213
Published: 8 December 2009


Cryopreservation of equine semen has been widely studied by several research groups because of the large breed and individual variation in sperm freezability. A key factor in sperm cryopreservation is the high incidence of oxidative stress, an imbalance between reactive oxygen species (ROS) and antioxidant protection, which impairs sperm functionality by attacking plasma membrane, acrosome, mitochondria, and DNA. In order to study the resistance of equine spermatozoa to different reactive oxygen species (ROS), sperm samples from 4 Mangalarga stallions were collected using an artificial vagina. Samples were cryopreserved in extenders containing dimethylformamide (DMF) or methylformamide (MF). After thawing and washing, sperm samples were then incubated (1 h, 37°C) with 4 ROS inducer mechanisms: xanthine/xanthine oxidase (produces superoxide anion), hydrogen peroxide (4 mM), ascorbate/ferrous sulfate (4 mM; produced hidroxyl radical), and malondialdehyde (MDA, lipid peroxidation product). Samples were evaluated using the 3-3′ diamino benzidine (DAB) stain, as an indicator of mitochondrial activity; the eosin nigrosin staining, to evaluate plasma membrane integrity; the simple stain (fast green/Bengal rose), to assess acrosome integrity; and the measurement of thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS), a lipid peroxidation product. Statistical analysis was performed using the Student t-test and LSD test. Results showed that sperm mitochondrial potential of frozen-thawed samples in MF was highly susceptible to the attack of hydroxyl radical and hydrogen peroxide. No effect of ROS was observed on membrane and acrosome integrity. On the other hand, samples cryopreserved in DMF showed no differences in susceptibility to ROS. When evaluating the main effects of different extenders, results showed a higher protective effect of the MF extender on acrosome integrity and mitochondrial potential (MF: 12.1 ± 2.2 and 7.8 ± 2.3% v. DMF: 3.4 ± 0.7 and 1.1 ± 0.7%, respectively, P < 0.05). However, a negative effect of MF extender was observed regarding the percentage of sperm showing intact membrane and TBARS content (MF: 2.0 ± 0.8% and 517 ± 115 ng/106 sperm v. DMF: 20.6 ± 1.7% and 118 ± 44 ng/106 sperm, respectively, P < 0.05). A strong negative correlation was found between TBARS and plasma membrane integrity (r = -0.88; P = 0.004) for samples cryopreserved in DMF, whereas a positive correlation was found between TBARS and sperm with full mitochondrial potential (r = 0.73; P = 0.04). Results of the present study indicate that DMF may play a role in the protection of sperm against the attack of ROS. However, such action is apparently limited to the plasma membrane. On the other hand, the MF-supplemented extender exerts an intracellular protection. Therefore, the antioxidant therapy, especially hydrogen peroxide and hydroxyl radical scavengers, may be an alternative to improve the post-thaw quality of MF-supplemented cryopreserved semen in stallions, by increasing extracellular antioxidant capacity.

The authors thank Nutricell for financial support and the media used in the present experiment.

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