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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Deciphering sperm chromatin properties to predice stallion sperm fertility

Al-Kass, Ziyad; Ntallaris, Theodoros; Morrell, Jane; Johannisson, Anders

Abstract

Although previous studies have examined the relationship between the sperm DNA fragmentation index and fertility in stallions, other aspects of chromatin structure or packaging and fertility have not been explored. In the present study, relationships between fertility and DNA fragmentation index, protamine deficiency, total thiols, free thiols and disulfide bonds in stallion spermatozoa were investigated. Ejaculates (n = 36) were collected from 12 stallions and extended to prepare semen doses for insemination. One dose from each ejaculate was sent to the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. Aliquots of semen were stained for flow cytometry with acridine orange for the Sperm Chromatin Structure Assay (DNA fragmentation Index, %DFI), with chromomycin A3 (CMA) for protamine deficiency, and with monobromobimane (mBBr) for detection of total and free thiols and disulfide bonds. Per season pregnancy rates after insemination were obtained. Mixed linear models were used to analyze data. Negative correlations were found between pregnancy rate and %DFI (r = −0.35, P < 0.03) and pregnancy rate and free thiols (r = −0.60, P < 0.0001). Furthermore, there were positive correlations between total thiols and disulfide bonds (r = 0.95, P < 0.0001), and protamine and disulfide bonds (r = 0.4100, P < 0.01986). Since chromatin integrity, protamine deficiency and packaging were all associated with fertility, a combination of these factors could be used as a biomarker of fertility when assessing ejaculates.

Keywords

Pregnancy rate; DNA protamine deficiency; total thiols; Disulfide bonds; Flow cytometry

Published in

Animal Reproduction Science
2023, Volume: 250, article number: 107200