A structural study of the bovine vaginal fluid at estrus

J Rutllant, Gatius F López, J Camon, Béjar M López, Plana C. López

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6 Citations (Scopus)


The present study describes the structural components of the bovine vaginal fluid at estrus by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) following critical point- and freeze-drying preparation procedures. Confocal scanning laser microscopy (CLSM) was also used to evaluate the structural integrity of samples, and a control sample was assessed by adding sperm to the vaginal fluid. Samples were collected from 10 cows at the time of artificial insemination, prepared for SEM by using critical point- and freeze-drying procedures, gold coated, and observed by SEM. Mesh size and filament thickness were measured with an image analyzer. Of the 10 samples processed, 4 were considered altered following critical point drying. Compaction and lack of filaments were observed in these samples. A small area of one sample showed a honey comb-like structure when freeze drying was used. Nonoriented filaments with different thicknesses and with a network-like structure were observed throughout the remainder of the samples. Filaments throughout all samples were also observed by CSLM. After critical point drying, the mesh area ranged from 0.8 to 101.4 μm2; the minor axis from 0.7 to 10.8 μm; and filament thickness from 40 to 442 nm. Using freeze drying, the mesh area ranged from 0.9 to 493.8 μm2; the minor axis from 0.7 to 27.5 μm; and filament thickness from 40 to 800 nm. When samples were freeze dried, mesh values were similar to the interstrand channels observed by CSLM. In sperm- vaginal fluid samples, following critical point- or freeze-drying procedures, spermatozoa were oriented randomly in the vaginal fluid and did not seem to alter filamentous structure. Our data suggest that the freeze-drying procedure better preserves the true structural dimensions of the vaginal fluid. Furthermore, the filamentous structure of the vaginal fluid does not appear to impede sperm transport.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)204-211
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 1999


  • Bovine
  • Confocal scanning laser microscopy
  • Scanning electron microscopy
  • Structure
  • Vaginal fluid


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