An experiment was designed to study the interaction between fresh/frozen-thawed donkey spermatozoa and zona pellucida (ZP)-free bovine oocytes in an attempt to develop a model for assessing cryopreserved Catalonian donkey sperm function. Semen from five donkeys was collected using an artificial vagina. Sperm motility and viability were immediately assessed and the semen sample cryopreserved. Sperm viability and motility were then reassessed immediately after thawing. The motion characteristics of the fresh and frozen-thawed spermatozoa were determined using a computer-assisted sperm analysis system. In vitro-matured cow oocytes were inseminated with different percent live donkey sperm (high (>60%) or low (<40%) viability donkey sperm). After 18 h of co-incubation, the oocytes were fixed, stained with 4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole (DAPI) and examined for sperm penetration, the number of penetrated spermatozoa per oocyte, and male pronucleus formation. Frozen-thawed spermatozoa from high viability semen showed significantly lower VCL, VAP and mean ALH values than did high viability fresh spermatozoa. In contrast, frozen-thawed spermatozoa of low viability had significantly higher velocity values than fresh spermatozoa of low viability. A significant positive correlation (P < 0.01) was detected between percentage fertilization and viability (r = 0.84), and between percentage fertilization and certain CASA parameters (VAP, r = 0.56; VCL, r = 0.61 and mean ALH, r = 0.68). Fresh or frozen-thawed high viability spermatozoa penetrated 90.1% and 85.4% of bovine oocytes respectively. Lower rates of penetration were observed for fresh and frozen-thawed low viability spermatozoa (34% and 22.5% respectively). The donkey spermatozoa were able to fuse with the oolema and even to decondense and form the male pronucleus (85-94%). Larger numbers of penetrated spermatozoa per oocyte were recorded when high viability sperm samples were used, whether fresh (3.02 vs. 1.12 for low viability sperm) or frozen-thawed (3.41 vs. 1.47). Consequently, low viability sperm samples showed higher percentages of monospermic penetration (91.17% and 61.97% for fresh and frozen-thawed sperm samples respectively). These findings suggest that bovine oocytes provide a useful model for assessing the penetration potential of frozen-thawed donkey sperm. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
- Sperm functionality assay
- Sperm-oocyte interaction