Fride Berg Standerholen, Karin Elisabeth Waterhouse, Anne Guro Larsgard, Randi Therese Garmo, Frøydis Deinboll Myromslien, Jan Sunde, Erik Ropstad, Geir Klinkenberg, Elisabeth Kommisrud,
To make timing of artificial insemination (AI) relative to ovulation less critical, methods for prolonging shelf life of spermatozoa in vivo after AI have been attempted to be developed. Encapsulation of sperm cells is a documented technology, and recently, a technology in which sperm cells are embedded in alginate gel has been introduced and commercialized. In this study, standard processed semen with the Biladyl extender (control) was compared with semen processed by sperm immobilization technology developed by SpermVital AS in a blind field trial. Moreover, in vitro acrosome and plasma membrane integrity was assessed and compared with AI fertility data for possible correlation. Semen from 16 Norwegian Red young bulls with unknown fertility was collected and processed after splitting the semen in two aliquots. These aliquots were processed with the standard Biladyl extender or the SpermVital extender to a final number of 12 × 106 and 25 × 106 spermatozoa/dose, respectively. In total, 2000 semen doses were produced from each bull, divided equally by treatment. Artificial insemination doses were set up to design a blinded AI regime; 5 + 5 straws from each extender within ejaculates in ten-straw goblets were distributed to AI technicians and veterinarians all over Norway. Outcomes of the inseminations were measured as 56-day nonreturn rate (NRR). Postthaw sperm quality was assessed by flow cytometry using propidium iodide and Alexa 488–conjugated peanut agglutinin to assess the proportion of plasma membrane and acrosome-intact sperm cells, respectively. In total, data from 14,125 first inseminations performed over a 12-month period, 7081 with Biladyl and 7044 with SpermVital semen, were used in the statistical analyses. There was no significant difference in 56-day NRR for the two semen categories, overall NRR being 72.5% and 72.7% for Biladyl and SpermVital, respectively. The flow cytometric results revealed a significant higher level of acrosome-intact live spermatozoa in Biladyl-processed semen compared to SpermVital semen. The results indicate that the level of acrosome-intact live spermatozoa in the AI dose did not affect the 56-day NRR for the two semen processing methods. In conclusion, this study has showed that immobilized spermatozoa provide equal fertility results as standard processed semen when AI is performed in a blinded field trial, although the immobilization procedure caused increased sperm damage evaluated in vitro compared to standard semen processing procedure.
Read the publication from Theriogenology here!