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Research article2015Peer reviewedOpen access

Effect of Pre-Fixation Delay and Freezing on Mink Testicular Endpoints for Environmental Research

Spörndly-Nees, Ellinor; Ekstedt, Elisabeth; Magnusson, Ulf; Fakhrzadeh, Azadeh; Luengo Hendriks, Cris L.; Holm, Lena


There is growing interest in using wild animals to monitor the real-life cocktail effect of environmental chemicals on male reproduction. However, practical difficulties, such as long distances to the laboratory, generally prolong the time between euthanisation and specimen handling. For instance, tissue fixation is often performed on frozen material or on material where deterioration has started, which may affect tissue morphology. This study examined the effect of pre-fixation delay and freezing on mink testicular endpoints in order to determine robust endpoints in suboptimally handled specimens. Sexually mature farmed mink (n=30) selected at culling were divided into six groups and subjected to different time intervals between euthanisation and fixation or freezing: 0 hours (fixed immediately post mortem), 6 hours, 18 hours, 30 hours, 42 hours, or frozen 6 hours post mortem and thawed overnight. Unaffected endpoints when pre-fixation storage was extended to 30 hours included: area and diameter of the seminiferous tubules, length and weight of the testes, and acrosomes marked with Gata-4. Epithelial height, Sertoli cells marked with Gata-4 and cell morphology were affected endpoints after 6 hours of storage. Freezing the tissue prior to fixation severely altered cell morphology and reduced testicular weight, tubular diameter and area. Morphological changes seen after 6 hours included shredded germ cells and excess cytoplasm in seminiferous tubular lumen, chromatin rearrangements and increased germ cell death. Extended delay before fixation and freezing affected many endpoints in the mink testicular tissue. Some of these endpoints may mimic chemically induced effects, which is important to consider when evaluating specimens from wild animals for environmental toxicity.

Published in

2015, Volume: 10, number: 5Publisher: PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE