Improved quality of cryopreserved cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) spermatozoa after centrifugation through accudenzPapers & Publications
Sperm cryopreservation, in combination with assisted reproductive techniques, is a valuable tool for the genetic management of endangered felids. However, the acrosome of the cheetah spermatozoon is especially sensitive to cryopreservation, with approximately 40% of spermatozoa experiencing acrosomal damage immediately after thawing and then another approximately 15% loss during the next 4 hours in vitro. Additionally, thawing causes a reduction in sperm motility by approximately 20% with another decrease of approximately 12% during subsequent incubation in vitro. We hypothesized that slow removal of glycerol from cryopreserved cheetah spermatozoa using an Accudenz gradient would improve acrosomal integrity, sperm motility longevity, and structural morphology. Accudenz was compared with traditional cheetah sperm processing methods for glycerol removal that involves washing, multistep resuspension, and swim-up processing. Electroejaculates (n = 21 total from 8 males) were washed in Ham F10 medium, and sperm pellets were resuspended in TEST-yolk buffer with 0% glycerol. Samples were cryopreserved in straws in 4% final glycerol, thawed, and assessed for percent intact acrosomes (% IA), percent motility (% M), and forward progressive status (FPS; scale, 0-5). Sperm motility index (SMI) was calculated as (% M + [FPS x 20]) / 2. In study 1, glycerol removal by centrifugation through an Accudenz gradient (4%, 10%) was compared with traditional sperm washing (control) and multistep resuspension protocols. At each time after centrifugation (hourly for 4 hours), % IA was improved (P < .05) for Accudenz (range, 36%-39%) compared with control (30%-33%) and multistep (29%-33%) treatments. In study 2, a modified Accudenz protocol was compared with traditional washing and was found to improve (P < .05) SMI (range, 52-64) compared with controls (range, 41-52) at each time postthaw after centrifugation. In study 3, swim-up processed sperm were compared with those treated by centrifugation through Accudenz and traditional sperm washing for improving sperm morphology. The percentage of structurally-normal sperm recovered postthawing increased (P < .05) for both the Accudenz (38%) and swim-up (33%) treatments compared with controls (21%). Percent IA and SMI also were improved (P < .05) for Accudenz (range, 39%-47% and 46-59, respectively) compared with controls (range, 26%-33% and 40-53, respectively). Results indicate that using Accudenz for glycerol removal from cryopreserved cheetah sperm mitigates the significant loss in sperm quality that occurs after freeze-thawing. This alleviation of cellular damage resulting from cryopreservation contributes to a more than 10% improvement in overall sperm motility and, more importantly, allows retention of 40% or more of sperm with intact acrosomes.