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Relationship between sperm apoptosis and bull fertility: in vivo and in vitro studies.

Erickson, L., Kroetsch, T.G., and Anzar, M. (2015). "Relationship between sperm apoptosis and bull fertility: in vivo and in vitro studies.", Reproduction, Fertility and Development, 28(9), pp. 1369-1375. doi : 10.1071/RD14417  Access to full text


The objectives of this study were to confirm the relationship of apoptosis-associated membrane and nuclear changes in bull spermatozoa with field fertility, to predict the fertility of beef bulls used for natural breeding and to study the role of DNA-nicked spermatozoa in early embryonic development. In Experiment 1, the relationship between fertility and different sperm populations identified by the Annexin V/propidium iodide (PI) and terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase mediated dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) assays was determined. Bull fertility was related to live (P < 0.05) and necrotic (P < 0.01) and DNA-nicked (P < 0.001) spermatozoa. In Experiment 2, the percentage of DNA-nicked spermatozoa was determined in 15 beef bulls used for natural breeding and their fertility potential was determined using a regression model developed in Experiment 1.The predicted fertility deviation of beef bulls ranged from –7.3 to 2.4. In Experiment 3, the effect of DNA-nicked spermatozoa on in vitro cleavage and blastocyst rates was evaluated, using 30 000 or 300 000 spermatozoa per droplet. Cleavage rate was adversely affected (P < 0.05) by DNA-nicked spermatozoa, regardless of sperm concentration. Blastocyst rate was lower (P < 0.05) in high DNA-nicked spermatozoa at the lower sperm concentration. In conclusion, the incidence of DNA-nicked spermatozoa is a useful marker to predict a bull’s fertility potential. DNA-nicked spermatozoa showed adverse effects on early embryonic development.

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