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J Anim Sci. 2002 Jan;80(1):12-8.

Effect of pyruvate on the function of stallion spermatozoa stored for up to 48 hours.

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  • 1Department of Animal Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins 805223, USA. bruemmer@lamar.colostate.edu


Stallion spermatozoa maintain high fertilizing capacity if cooled to 5 degrees C and inseminated within 24 h. However, if spermatozoa are stored for 48 h, fertilizing capacity declines. Therefore, multiple shipments of semen are often required to inseminate mares that remain in estrus for days. Therefore, experiments were designed to determine if adding antioxidants to stallion spermatozoa stored at 5 degrees C for 48 h could maintain motility and fertilizing ability. In the first experiment stallion spermatozoa were incubated in a skim milk (SM) or a skim milk-egg yolk medium in combination with 10 mM pyruvate, 5 mM xanthurenic acid separately or in combination for up to 48 h at 5 degrees C. Spermatozoa incubated in SM for 48 h exhibited higher percentages of motile sperm (57%) than did sperm incubated in skim milk-egg yolk (34%); antioxidant treatment had little effect. In the second experiment, spermatozoa were incubated in SM containing 0, 1, 2, or 5 mM pyruvate. After 24 h of incubation at 5 degrees C, sperm incubated with 1, 2, or 5 mM pyruvate exhibited higher percentages of progressively motile spermatozoa (45%) than control exhibited (26%; P < 0.05). After 48 h, percentages of progressively motile spermatozoa were similar (27, 19, and 30 vs 14, respectively; P > 0.05). However, when incubated at 5 degrees C for 48 h and then incubated an additional 4 h at 25 degrees C, samples containing pyruvate exhibited higher percentages of motile (63 to 80%) and progressively motile (36 to 42%) sperm than did sperm in SM alone (28 and 5%, respectively; P < 0.05). The third experiment attempted to determine the optimal pyruvate concentration to maintain spermatozoal motility. Spermatozoa incubated with 0, 2, 3.5, or 5 mM pyruvate for 48 h at 5 degrees C and then an additional 4 h at 25 degrees C, exhibited similar percentages of progressively motile cells (31, 35, and 28%, respectively) that were higher than control (11%, P < 0.05). The last experiment evaluated the fertilizing potential of cooled spermatozoa. Embryos were recovered from 35, 20, and 30% of mares inseminated with spermatozoa that had been incubated at 5 degrees C, for 24 h in SM, or for 48 h in SM or SM + 2 mM pyruvate, respectively (P > 0.05). These studies indicate that 2 mM pyruvate in SM was beneficial in maintaining spermatozoal motility in 48 h-stored sperm and, although not significant, seemed to help maintain the fertility of 48 h-cooled spermatozoa.

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