The aims of the present study were: (1) to evaluate the influence of sperm concentration (ranging from 0.5 × 106 to 4 × 10 6 spermatozoa/ml) and length of the gamete co-incubation time (2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 16, 20, 24 or 28 h) on in vitro fertilization (IVF), assessing the sperm penetration rate; (2) to investigate the kinetics of different semen parameters as motility, viability and acrosome status during the co-culture period; and (3) to analyse the effect of the presence of cumulus-oocytes complexes (COCs) on these parameters. To achieve these objectives, several experiments were carried out using in vitro matured oocytes from prepubertal goats. The main findings of this work are that: (1) in our conditions, the optimum sperm concentration is 4 × 106 sperm/ml, as this sperm:oocyte ratio (approximately 28,000) allowed us to obtain the highest penetration rate, without increasing polyspermy incidence; (2) the highest percentage of viable acrosome-reacted spermatozoa is observed between 8-12 h of gamete co-culture, while the penetration rate is maximum at 12 h of co-incubation; and (3) the presence of COCs seems to favour the acrosome reaction of free spermatozoa on IVF medium, but not significantly. In conclusion, we suggest that a gamete co-incubation for 12-14 h, with a concentration of 4 × 106 sperm/ml, would be sufficient to obtain the highest rate of penetration, reducing the exposure of oocytes to high levels of reactive oxygen species produced by spermatozoa, especially when a high sperm concentration is used to increase the caprine IVF outcome. © 2010 Cambridge University Press.
- Acrosome reaction