During boar semen processing and distribution, maximizing the work protocols in the laboratories becomes essential for the conservation of seminal doses. One of the recent implementations in the boar studs to improve efficiency has been semi-automatic semen collection systems, which do not allow to discard fractions of the ejaculate. The objective of this work was to evaluate the dilution method and vibrations (simulating delivery transport) effect on sperm quality (motility, viability, morphology, thermo-resistance test) according to the fraction of ejaculate collected. Two different fractions of the ejaculate were obtained [rich fraction (RF); total fractions (TF)] from six boars, and two dilution methods applied [pouring the extender over the semen (control; ES); pouring the semen over the extender (reverse; SE)]. The seminal doses (2000 × 106 sperm/50 mL) were preserved for 5 days. The results showed that the fraction collected affects sperm quality (better total and progressive motility, and faster sperm in TF; p < 0.05) regardless of the dilution method applied. However, these differences diminished after submitting the semen to the thermo-resistance test, with only differences in sperm viability being observed (p < 0.05). When seminal doses were subjected to vibrations, the sperm viability was more affected in the TF than in the RF group (p < 0.05). In conclusion, using the TF ejaculate leads to comparable results to the RF in sperm quality during storage regardless of the dilution method applied. However, the vibrations of seminal doses are more affected in doses prepared with TF than with RF, although more factors should be included to approach the real conditions during transport.
This study aimed to evaluate and compare the effect of three semen extenders (S-EXT) on 22 spermatozoa (SPZ) parameters (subjective and computer-assisted sperm analysis evaluations), before and after semen cryopreservation throughout different months of the breeding season in the Portuguese Merino breed. According to the multivariable model, the SPZ viability (alive %), kinetics subjective individual motility, total motility, total progressive motility and its subpopulations, and beat cross frequency) were higher in the egg yolk-based S-EXT improved by Estação Zootécnica National (Portugal) than in Ovixcell® or Andromed® extenders. All the differences were only observed in thawed semen, except for total motility and total progressive motility, in which Ovixcell® also showed the poorest results on fresh semen. An interaction effect between S-EXT and semen processing was observed on 72.3% (17/22) of the evaluated parameters, evidencing a variable cryoprotective action between S-EXT. The SPZ viability was poorer in the onset of the breeding season (end of April/early May) than in the previous middle breeding season (November/early December), suggesting the influence of a short anoestrous season on ejaculate quality, even though the volume and SPZ concentration of the ejaculates remained stable throughout the experiment. Additionally, S-EXT x semen processing x month interaction effect on 59.1% (13/22) of the evaluated parameters evidenced the importance of SPZ time collection in a natural environment to cryopreserve ram’s semen. We concluded that, overall, the egg yolk-based S-EXT provided a greater value to the cryopreservation of Merino rams´ semen. Nevertheless, the causes of the interaction effect between S-EXT, semen processing and/or month on several SPZ parameters should be addressed, including SPZ molecular research in new studies, in order to improve egg yolk-based as well as in egg yolk-free-based S-EXT.
In species where semen is deposited in the vagina, the cervix has the unique function of facilitating progress of spermatozoa towards the site of fertilisation while also preventing the ascending influx of pathogens from the vagina. For the majority of species, advances in assisted reproduction techniques facilitate the bypassing of the cervix and therefore its effect on the transit of processed spermatozoa has been largely overlooked. The exception is in sheep, as it is currently not possible to traverse the ovine cervix with an inseminating catheter due to its complex anatomy, and semen must be deposited at the external cervical os. This results in unacceptably low pregnancy rates when frozen-thawed or liquid stored (>24 h) semen is inseminated. The objective of this review is to discuss the biological mechanisms which regulate cervical sperm selection. We assess the effects of endogenous and exogenous hormones on cervical mucus composition and discuss how increased mucus production and flow during oestrus stimulates sperm rheotaxis along the crypts and folds of the cervix. Emerging results shedding light on the sperm-cervical mucus interaction as well as the dialogue between spermatozoa and the innate immune system are outlined. Finally, ewe breed differences in cervical function and the impact of semen processing on the success of fertilisation, as well as the most fruitful avenues of further investigation in this area are proposed.
Kinematic parameters of thawed ram semen frozen under field conditions were analysed with the use of two commercial (egg yolk vs egg yolk free) semen extenders in different year-seasonal periods. The semen was collected from Suffolk (n = 2) and Charollais (n = 1) rams kept in private breeding farm on 3 test days (pre-mating, at mating, post mating) during year 2016. Two commercial semen extenders (egg yolk-based BullXcell® or egg yolk-free AndroMed®) were used for semen processing. Processed semen was frozen in 0.25 ml plastic cryostraws using the custom-made portable freezing box for ram semen cryopreservation under field conditions. Thawed semen characteristics were evaluated using computer-assisted semen analysis (CASA) system immediately after thawing and after 2 h of heat incubation (±38°C). Significantly higher total motility (+12.3%), straight line velocity (+5.6 μm s−1), and average-path velocity (+6.9 μm s−1) were detected for the semen processed and cryopreserved using egg yolk-based semen extender. Year-seasonal variation and introducing the ram to service had shown to have a significant effect on the cryopreserved ram spermatozoa. These preliminary results confirmed the feasibility of ram semen processing and cryopreservation under field conditions.
The increased commercialisation of intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) in horses creates more opportunities to incorporate advanced reproductive technologies, such as sex-sorted, refrozen and lyophilised spermatozoa, into a breeding program. This paper reviews the status of these semen-handling technologies in light of their use in equine ICSI programs. Pregnancies have been achieved from each of these advanced technologies when combined with ICSI in horses, but refinements in the semen-handling processes underpinning these technologies are currently being explored to produce more reliable and practical improvements in the results from equine ICSI.