Preserved stallion semen often has decreased spermatozoal motility and fertility that can vary significantly between individual stallions. It is not known whether the medium used for extending equine sperm contributes to these decreases by inducing premature capacitation during storage. If spermatozoa undergo capacitation or acrosome reaction prior to insemination, this could result in a diminished capacity to penetrate the cumulus mass and fertilize the egg. We hypothesized that skim milk-based semen extenders, similar to those used in cooled storage, stabilize sperm membranes and prolong sperm motility and longevity. However, this could decrease the efficiency of sperm to undergo subsequent capacitation in vivo. This study was designed to evaluate the effects from two media on sperm function. Spermatozoal motility was analyzed, intracellular calcium was measured, and the ability of sperm to undergo acrosome reaction was compared after incubation in a skim milk extender (SME) and Tyrode's medium containing albumin, lactate, and pyruvate (TALP) at 37°C. Results suggest that the SME facilitated capacitation as detected by an increase in both intracellular calcium and acrosome reactions, and a decrease in motility, as compared to TALP. Our data support a shortened functional lifespan for equine sperm in skim milk extender, which indicates that further refinements in cooled semen preservation are required to improve fertility of transported equine semen.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Animal Science and Zoology