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Theriogenology. 2006 Apr 1;65(6):1122-36. Epub 2005 Sep 22.

Usefulness of a triple fluorochrome combination Merocyanine 540/Yo-Pro 1/Hoechst 33342 in assessing membrane stability of viable frozen-thawed spermatozoa from Estonian Holstein AI bulls.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Ullsv√§gen 14C, Clinical Center, P.O. Box 7054, Ultuna SE-750 07, Uppsala, Sweden.


In a situation where technology allows for the simultaneous measurement of numerous parameters of a single sperm cell, it becomes crucial to choose those parameters which may be useful in estimating in vivo fertility. Sperm membrane destabilization is believed to occur during chilling of semen, although its effect on the post-thaw (PT) fertility of the spermatozoa has not yet been fully assessed. For this reason, we tested a new combination of fluorophores, Merocyanine 540 (M540)/Yo-Pro 1/Hoechst 33342 (H33342), to detect sperm plasma membrane destabilization in bull spermatozoa conventionally processed for artificial insemination (AI). The samples were tested by flow cytometry (FC), both immediately PT and following an in vitro swimup (SU) technique, and results were thereafter compared with conventional sperm quality measurements (of concentration, motility, morphology, and membrane integrity), including in vivo fertility. Semen samples from six Estonian Holstein (EHF) AI bulls, frozen when the sires were aged 3, 5, and 7 years, allowed us to test the effect of bull age on quality of semen. Plasma membrane stability correlated to motility, normal head morphology (p<0.05), and membrane integrity (p<0.01). Following the SU selection, motility, membrane integrity (p<0.001), and membrane instability increased (p<0.01), as did stability (p<0.05). Bull age did not influence the degree of sperm membrane destabilization, except for the 3-year sample versus 7-year sample, in which the proportion of spermatozoa with destabilized plasma lemma increased PT (p<0.05) without affecting membrane integrity. Only parameters measured after SU, such as proportion of total motile and linearly motile spermatozoa, assessed with computer-assisted sperm analysis (CASA) (p<0.01), average path velocity (VAP) (p<0.001), and percentage of spermatozoa with unstable plasma lemma (p<0.05), had a significant relationship with non-return rate (NRR). The results indicate that a triple combination of the fluorophores M540/Yo-Pro 1/H33342 is suitable for monitoring the status of membrane stability in frozen-thawed (FT) bull spermatozoa. As well, a SU preselection method seems helpful in distinguishing relationships between sperm quality and fertility among bulls in a homogenous sire population.

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