A novel flush technique to simulate natural dispersal of spermatozoa in the female reproductive tract and expedite motility assessment of fresh ejaculated Merino (Ovis aries) sperm

Author: N. H. Boshoff, H. Lambrechts, L. Maree, S. W. P. Cloete & G. van der Horst
Year: 2018
Issue: 3
Volume: 48
Page: 469 - 476

Motility is an important criterion in the assessment and quantification of the quality of ejaculated and epididymal sperm samples. Ovine sperm spermatozoa are particularly susceptible to cryodamage, and shortening the interval from collection to cryostorage may potentially minimize the negative effects of cryopreservation, thereby improving the post-thaw viability of ram spermatozoa. The use of the swim-up technique (SUT) in quantifying spermatozoa motility is well documented, especially for the isolation of highly motile spermatozoa for assisted reproductive purposes. However, this technique is time consuming and involves a swim-up period of 10 minutes before the motility of a sample is recorded by using computer-assisted sperm analysis (CASA) software such as the Sperm Class Analyser® (SCA®). The novel flush technique (FT) allows for capturing of sperm motility tracks via the SCA® system shortly after semen collection, that is, within a minute. This study compared fresh ejaculated sperm motility traits by using the SUT and FT. Motility evaluations were performed using 45 semen samples obtained from 15 adult Merino rams (Ovis aries) at weekly intervals. Motility recordings were captured at 100 frames per second, using a calibrated 20 µm deep Leja slide. The percentage total motile spermatozoa of samples subjected to the FT was 89.2%, which was significantly higher than that recorded by the SUT (83.9%). The results also indicated that the wobble (WOB) parameter showed significantly higher values when using the FT, and parameters curvilinear velocity (VCL) and amplitude of the lateral head displacement (ALH) indicated significantly higher values when using the SUT. Establishing the ideal spermatozoa concentration and analysis of sperm subpopulation motility characteristics would assist in the optimization of the FT, and its use in CASA motility analysis of ovine spermatozoa. Standardization of CASA analysis of ovine semen samples, which would enable the selection of quality spermatozoa samples for use in field insemination (fresh samples) or in vitro fertilization programs, and laparoscopic AI cryopreserved samples warrants further investigation.

Keywords: cryopreservation, Merino, sperm class analyser, sperm motility, sperm separation technique
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