Low Density Lipoproteins at 2% Concentration Can Replace Whole Egg Yolk in TES-Tris-Milk Extender for Freezing Buffalo Sperm Cells
Background: Over the years, the most commonly used extenders for semen cryopreservation contain egg yolk as cryoprotectant. However, more recent studies have used the low density lipoproteins, extract of hen egg yolk which is responsible for the cryoprotective effect. Nevertheless, little was known about its required minimum concentration as well as its interaction with other extra cellular cryoprotectants, like skimmed milk. The present study aimed at investigating the effect of replacing whole egg yolk by adding low density lipoproteins at low concentrations, in TES-Tris-skim milk based extender, on the post-thaw quality of buffalo bull sperm.
Materials, Methods & Results: Eighteen ejaculates were collected from six buffalo bulls and diluted with TES-Tris-skim milk based extender containing LDL, extracted from hen egg yolks, at the concentrations of 2%, 4%, 8% and 14%, against a control extender containing 20% fresh egg yolk. After semen collection, analyses of subjective motility, vigor, force tourbillon, sperm concentration (Neubauer chamber) and sperm morphology (phase contrast microscopy) were performed. The diluted semen was packaged in 0.25 mL straws, and cooling was performed on computerized machine (TK 4000®), using a cooling rate of -0.25°C/min to 5°C. Semen was kept in balance at 5°C for 4 h. The straws were frozen in an ice chest, kept at 5 cm from the surface of liquid nitrogen for 20 min and then immersed in liquid nitrogen. The samples were kept in cryogenic container until thawing. Post-thaw kinetic parameters during incubation at 37°C (CASA), sperm membrane integrity (SYBR-14/PI), membrane functionality (hypo-osmotic swelling test) and DNA fragmentation (%DFI - SCSA) were evaluated after thawing. Immediately post-thaw, total motility was higher in the control (56.53 ± 9.73) than in the tested extenders; however, after 30 min the difference was no longer detected. All other kinetic parameters presented significantly better results in extenders containing 2%, 4% and 8% LDL, compared with the control. There was no difference between treatments regarding the integrity of membranes or fragmentation of the DNA after freezing/thawing procedures.
Discussion: The molecules of low density lipoproteins of egg yolk have the known action of sequestering BSP ( binder of sperm proteins) protein, due to the chemical affinity of their main components, phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylethanolamine. The BSP are responsible for removing cholesterol from the plasma membrane of the sperm, preparing it for the sperm capacitation phase. Low density lipoproteins by inhibiting the action of the BSP increase the stability of the plasma membrane during the freeze-thaw process. The milk caseins micelles have a similar ability to bind the BSP, but with lower affinity. The present study has shown that the use of purified low density lipoproteins has an advantage over the use of whole egg yolk, especially with regard to the kinetic parameters of the spermatozoa after thawing. Furthermore, it was observed that low concentrations of low density lipoproteins, such as 2%, in extenders containing skim milk, could preserve the sperm cell during the freeze-thawing process like that higher LDL concentrations and whole egg yolk. Further studies are needed to determine if the cryoprotectant action found in this study was a result of the synergistic action of skim milk with lipoproteins or even at low concentrations like 2% the lipoproteins can provide protection to the buffalo spermatozoa during freezing, as it has been reproduced in other domestic species. In conclusion, our results indicated that the extender TES-Tris-skim milk containing 2% LDL extracted from egg yolk could be used successfully in the cryopreservation of buffalo sperm cells.
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