Quality of Fresh, Cooled, and Frozen Semen From Stallions Supplemented with Antioxidants and Fatty Acids

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Abstract

This study assessed the effect of oral supplementation with the primary antioxidants and fatty acids involved in spermatogenesis (L-carnitine, selenium, vitamin E, omega-3, and omega-6) on the seminal quality in fresh, cooled, and frozen semen of stallions (n = 8), using a randomized design. The animals were divided into Group I (n = 4) and Group II (n = 4) for a 30-week experiment. The two groups alternated between nutraceutical supplementation and a placebo over the course of the experiment. Semen collections were performed in two sets: once in the middle of the experiment, before the two groups switched treatments, and once at the end. The volume, appearance, sperm concentration, spermatozoa kinetics, and membrane integrity of fresh semen were evaluated. The spermatozoa kinetics and membrane integrity of cooled (for 24, 36, and 48 hours) and frozen semen were also evaluated. No differences were observed in volume, appearance, and sperm concentration between treatment and control. However, compared with placebo, nutraceutical supplementation increased (P < .05) total motility, trajectory speed, as well as plasma and acrosomal membrane integrity in spermatozoa from fresh semen. In cooled semen, nutraceutical treatment also increased (P < .05) total motility, speed, and membrane integrity of spermatozoa compared with the control. In frozen semen, supplementation increased (P < .05) spermatozoa progressive motility and plasma membrane integrity. Our results suggest a positive, synergistic effect of the antioxidant L-carnitine and selenium on spermatozoa kinetics. Similarly, the increase in plasma and acrosomal membrane integrity could be attributed to higher concentrations of polyunsaturated fatty acids (a key cell-membrane component), combined with the prevention of excess lipid peroxidation by antioxidants. In conclusion, supplementation with nutraceuticals containing fatty acids and antioxidants improved the quality of fresh, cooled, and frozen stallion semen. Therefore, nutraceutical use should increase the success of artificial insemination with cooled and cryopreserved semen.

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