Cryopreservation of spermatozoa from wild-born Namibian cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) and influence of glycerol on cryosurvivalPapers & Publications
Sperm cryopreservation is a valuable tool for the genetic management of ex situ populations. This study was conducted to assess: (1) semen characteristics of wild-born cheetahs; and (2) the impact of three types of glycerol influence (duration of exposure, temperature, and method of addition) on sperm cryosensitivity. To evaluate the impact of duration of glycerol exposure, spermatozoa were incubated in Test Yolk Buffer (TYB) with 4% glycerol at ambient temperature (∼22 °C) for 15 vs. 60 min before cryopreservation. To evaluate the influence of temperature and method of glycerol addition, spermatozoa were resuspended at ambient temperature either in TYB with 0% glycerol followed by addition of 8% glycerol (1:1 v/v; at ambient temperature vs. 5 °C) or directly in TYB with 4% glycerol. All samples were cryopreserved in straws over liquid nitrogen vapor and evaluated for sperm motility and acrosomal integrity after thawing. Semen samples (n = 23; n = 13 males) contained a high proportion (78%) of pleiomorphic spermatozoa. Ejaculates also contained a high proportion of acrosome-intact (86%) and motile spermatozoa (78%). Immediately after thawing, a significant proportion of spermatozoa retained intact acrosomes (range, 48–67%) and motility (range, 40–49%). After thawing, incubation in glycerol for 60 min at ambient temperature before freezing decreased (p < 0.05) sperm motility and acrosomal integrity at one time-point each (pre-centrifugation and post-centrifugation, respectively). However, method or temperature of glycerol addition had no (p > 0.05) impact on sperm cryosurvival. In summary, (1) wild-born cheetahs produce high proportions of pleiomorphic spermatozoa but with a high proportion of intact acrosomes; and (2) resuspension in 4% glycerol, followed by exposure for up to 60 min at ambient temperature, had minimal effect on sperm motility and acrosomal integrity after cryopreservation. Results indicate the feasibility of cryopreserving cheetah spermatozoa under field conditions, providing a user-friendly method to capture and store gametes to enhance genetic management.