Semen cryopreservation has become an essential tool for conservation efforts of the giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca); however, it is severely detrimental to sperm quality. Evidence has shown that antioxidants have the potential to reverse cryopreservation-induced damage in sperm. The purpose of this study was to screen effective antioxidants that could retain sperm quality during cryopreservation and to determine the optimal dose. Seven antioxidant groups, including resveratrol (RSV = 50 μM, RSV = 100 μM, RSV = 150 μM), lycium barbarum polysaccharide (LBP = 2 mg/mL, LBP = 4 mg/mL), laminaria japonica polysaccharides (LJP = 1 mg/mL) or combination (LBP = 2 mg/mL, LJP = 1 mg/mL and RSV = 100 μM) were assessed.
RSV, LBP, LJP, or a combination of RSV, LBP, and LJP added to the freezing medium significantly improved sperm progressive motility, plasma membrane integrity, acrosome integrity, and mitochondrial activity during the cryopreservation process. Furthermore, the activities of glutathione peroxidase and superoxide dismutase were also improved. The levels of reactive oxygen species and malondialdehyde in semen were notably reduced. Hyaluronidase activity and acrosin activity were significantly increased in LBP-treated sperm. However, sperm total motility and DNA integrity were not significantly different between the groups.
RSV (50 μM) or LBP (2 mg/mL) are the best candidate antioxidants for inclusion in the freezing medium to improve the quality of giant panda spermatozoa during semen cryopreservation.