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Theriogenology. 2003 Oct 15;60(7):1293-308.

Field and in vitro assay of three methods for freezing ram semen.

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Animal Reproduction and Obstetrics, León University, León 24071, Spain.


Glycerol has been the most widely used cryopreservation agent for spermatozoa and a wide range of factors affect its action on sperm viability and fertilizing capacity. We tested three methods for freezing ram semen packed in 0.25 ml straws (final cellular concentration: 100 x 10(6) spz/ml). Method M1: Two-thirds of the final volume of diluent was added as solution A (without glycerol) to the pure semen at 35 degrees C. The sample was cooled to 5 degrees C (-0.30 degrees C/min), one-third of final diluent volume was added as solution B (final concentration of glycerol 4%) and the sample was maintained at 5 degrees C for 2h. It was then frozen in a programmable biofreezer (-20 degrees C/min down to -100 degrees C). Method M2: The sample was diluted with a specific solution at 35 degrees C (final concentration of glycerol 3%), cooled to 5 degrees C (-0.20 degrees C/min) and left for 2h. After that, it was frozen in nitrogen vapours. Method M3: Semen was diluted 1:1 in a specific solution (concentration of glycerol 2%) and cooled to 5 degrees C (-0.25 degrees C/min). The sample was then diluted again in the same solution to the final cellular concentration (final concentration of glycerol 4%). It was left for 1h at 5 degrees C and then frozen in a programmable biofreezer (-20 degrees C/min down to -100 degrees C). Best total motility (TM) and progressive motility (PM) (75.8 and 55.18%) were obtained using Method M3. Methods M1 and M3 gave significantly higher values (P<0.05) for kinetic parameters: average path velocity (VAP) (81.3 and 85.2 microm/s), straight-line velocity (VSL) (72.8 and 77.3 microm/s) and linearity (LIN) (66.6 and 68.8%). Method M2 showed the lowest kinetic parameters of motility (VAP 74.4, VSL 67.3 and LIN 62.5) and the highest percentage of cells with damaged plasma membrane (53.8%). Method M1 gave the worst results in viability and acrosome status assessed using fluorescence probes (31.3%-dead cells with damaged acrosomes-versus 25.4% in M2 and 23.3% in M3). A field trial carried out on fertility showed a significantly higher percentage of pregnant or lambing ewes (P<0.05) with Method M3 (67.3% versus 51.1% for M1 and 58.8% for M2). We concluded that the use of a simple dilution medium (test-fructose-glycerol-egg yolk) with the addition of glycerol (to 2% at 35 degrees C and to 4% at 5 degrees C) in two steps together with a programmable biofreezer was a productive method for freezing ram semen.

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