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Reprod Fertil Dev. 2006;18(7):781-8.

Sperm DNA damage is related to field fertility of semen from young Norwegian Red bulls.

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  • 1Team Semin, Departmental Division, Oslo, Norway. karin.waterhouse@veths.no


Flow cytometry was utilised for the first time to independently measure five sperm parameters of individual spermatozoa of bull ejaculates to differentiate between outcome successes after artificial insemination (AI). These parameters included plasma membrane and acrosome integrity, mitochondrial functionality and DNA damage measured by sperm chromatin structure assay (SCSA) and terminal deoxynucleotide transferase-mediated dUTP nick end labelling (TUNEL) assays. For each parameter, results of 142 ejaculates (30 bulls) were ranked into three groups according to their flow cytometric measures: (1) ejaculates with the 25% lowest measures; (2) the 50% middle measures; and (3) the 25% highest measures. In total, 20 272 first-service inseminations (18 ;10(6) spermatozoa per AI dose) were performed, where fertility was defined as non-return within 60 days after first insemination. While plasma membrane and acrosome integrity, and mitochondrial functionality were not significantly related to fertility, data from SCSA and TUNEL assays were significantly associated with fertility. Ejaculates in SCSA group 1 had higher odds of AI success (1.07, 95% CI = 1.02-1.12), whereas those in group 3 had lower odds of AI success (0.94, 95% CI = 0.89-0.99), compared with the average odds of all three groups. Ejaculates in group 2 did not have significantly higher odds of AI success compared with the average odds. For TUNEL-positive spermatozoa, the odds of AI success was higher in group 1 compared with the average odds (1.10, 95% CI = 1.02-1.13), whereas odds of AI success in groups 2 and 3 were not significant compared with the average odds. In conclusion, despite the high number of spermatozoa per AI dose from high-quality bulls, both SCSA and TUNEL assays were valuable measures in this study for evaluating sperm quality in relation to fertility after AI.

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