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Cryopreservation of bovine semen in egg yolk based extenders



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Cryopreservation of germplasm is widely used in agriculture, biotechnology, conservation of threatened species and human reproductive medicine. There is a need however to improve the reproductive efficiency of breeding with cryopreserved semen, which may involve increasing the post-thaw quality of sperm through improvements in cryopreservation extenders. Extenders including egg yolk from chickens are successfully used worldwide for cryopreservation of bovine semen, whereas the protective agent in the egg yolk is believed to be the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) fraction. Egg yolks of different avian species vary in their cholesterol, phospholipid and polyunsaturated fatty acid content which have been shown to have important effects on sperm’s freezing capability. The purpose of this study was to determine the cryoprotective effect of clarified egg yolk and LDLs extracted from different egg yolk sources (chicken, chicken omega-3, pigeon, quail and turkey) on bovine sperm. Semen from six bulls was collected four times each by electroejaculation, split and diluted with the 10 following extenders: chicken clarified (Ccl), chicken omega-3 clarified (O3cl), pigeon clarified (Pcl), quail clarified (Qcl), turkey clarified (Tcl), chicken LDL (CLDL), chicken omega-3 LDL (O3LDL), pigeon LDL (PLDL), quail LDL (QLDL) and turkey LDL (TLDL). The extended semen was evaluated, cryopreserved and examined directly after thawing (0h) and after two hours at 37 ˚C (2h). Computer assisted sperm analysis (CASA) was used to determine total sperm motility (TM), progressive motility (PM), straight line velocity (VSL), curvilinear velocity (VCL) and average path velocity (VAP). Intact plasma membrane (IPM) and intact acrosomes (IA) were measured by flow cytometry. The percentage change (loss; Δ%) of each sperm characteristic was calculated and used to compare the effect of the extenders. From extending to 0h post-thaw, the pigeon LDL extender lead to greater losses in sperm total and progressive motility, as well as of intact acrosomes, than the other nine extenders tested (P < 0.05). During 0h to 2h post-thaw, the sperm in PLDL extender experienced greater losses in total and progressive motility (P < 0.0001), as well as in curvilinear velocity (P < 0.05), than in all the other nine extenders. Sperm in turkey clarified extender had a greater loss in the velocity parameters (VSL, VAP, VCL) than sperm in several of the other extenders such as O3cl, CLDL, O3LDL, QLDL and TLDL from 0h to 2h (P < 0.05). Concomitantly, sperm in the Tcl extender had a greater loss in the velocity parameters and of intact acrosomes compared to sperm in its counterpart, the turkey LDL extender, from 0h to 2h post-thaw (P < 0.05). The differences produced in post-thaw quality of cryopreserved bovine sperm in the pigeon LDL and turkey clarified extenders were attributed to methodological differences in these egg yolk preparations compared with the other eight extenders. Importantly, the results demonstrate that with most egg yolk preparations derived from a variety of species, there are equivalent cryoprotective effects afforded by the use of omega-3 chicken, pigeon, quail, or conventional chicken egg yolk in a clarified form in freezing extenders for bovine semen. We further proved that the freezing capabilities of bovine semen extenders containing the low-density lipoprotein fraction of omega-3 chicken, quail, turkey and conventional chicken egg yolk were similar.



Bull, Cryopreservation, Semen, Extender, Egg yolk, Low-density lipoprotein, LDL, Clarified egg yolk, Sperm, Bovine



Master of Science (M.Sc.)


Western College of Veterinary Medicine


Large Animal Clinical Sciences


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