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Review article - Peer-reviewed, 2019

Nanotechnolgy in reproductive biotechnologies: colloid centrifguation for the diagnosis and treatment of fertility in animals

Morrell, Jane


Nanotechnology is employed in sperm preparation for assisted reproduction in animals, in the form of colloid centrifugation using coated-silica nanoparticles. The sperm sample is layered on top of the colloid; robust spermatozoa pass through the colloid whereas less robust spermatozoa are retained the colloid/semen interface or within the colloid layer. This method appears to be one of the most suitable sperm preparation techniques for animal semen since it is possible to process large volumes of semen without losing too many spermatozoa, producing highly fertile samples. Robust spermatozoa, with good motility, intact membranes, an unreacted acrosome, and intact chromatin, can be separated from the rest of the ejaculate, thus enhancing fertility when used in reproductive biotechnologies. These spermatozoa tend to produce less hydrogen peroxide than unselected samples, thus enhancing their quality and extending their shelf-life in storage. Furthermore, sperm cryopreservation is enhanced by selection prior to freezing. Sperm samples for artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization or intracytoplasmic sperm injection can be prepared with this method. The method can also be used therapeutically, as an indicator of fertility, to treat fertility issues and for conservation breeding. Furthermore, spermatozoa can be separated from viruses and bacteria in the ejaculate, thus improving biosecurity and potentially reducing the use of antibiotics. The latter can contribute to slowing the development of antimicrobial resistance.


Silica colloids; Sperm processing; Artificial insemination; In vitro fertilization; Intracytoplasmic sperm injection; Sperm preservation; Biomimetic sperm selection

Published in

SL Nanomedicine and nanotechnology journal
2019, volume: 2, number: 1, article number: 125

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Clinical Sciences

UKÄ Subject classification

Clinical Science

URI (permanent link to this page)