Stress preconditioning of rooster semen before cryopreservation improves fertility potential of thawed sperm

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Avian semen cryopreservation is not as successful as that seen in mammals. This failure is mostly attributed to unique physiological characteristics of poultry semen that make it susceptible to cryo-damages. Utilization of sublethal oxidative stress for preconditioning of sperm, as an innovative approach, improves the cryo-survival of sperm in certain mammalian species. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of preconditioning of rooster semen with sublethal oxidative stress [very low concentrations of nitric oxide (NO)] before cryopreservation on the quality and fertility potential of thawed sperm. Semen samples were collected from 20 roosters, twice a wk, and different concentrations of NO [0 (NO-0), 0.01 (NO-0.01), 0.1 (NO-0.1), 1 (NO-1), 10 (NO-10), and 100 μM (NO-100)] were used to investigate the effects of controlled induction of sublethal stress before semen cryopreservation on the thawed sperm performance. A significantly higher (P < 0.05) percentage of total motility was observed in semen treated with NO-1 compared to NO-0, NO-0.01, NO-0.1, NO-10, and NO-100. NO-1 and NO-100 produced the highest and lowest percentages of progressive motility, which were significantly different from that of the other groups (P < 0.05). A significantly higher (P < 0.05) percentage of sperm mitochondria activity was observed in semen exposed to NO-0, NO-0.01, NO-0.1, and NO-1. Moreover, the lowest (P < 0.05) concentration of malondialdehyde (MDA) was measured in samples treated with NO-1 in comparison to the other groups. Abnormal morphology, acrosome integrity, and velocity parameters [velocity average path (VAP) and linearity (LIN)] of sperm were not significantly (P > 0.05) affected by different concentrations of NO. Sperm exposed to NO-1 produced the highest percentage of viable spermatozoa (Annexin/PI), which was significantly different from the other samples. Finally, rate of fertility after artificial insemination was significantly higher (P < 0.05) following treatment with NO-1 compared to NO-0 and NO-0.1. Application of 1 μM NO as a sublethal oxidative stress before cryopreservation of sperm efficiently increased numerous quality indices of thawed sperm as well as its fertility potential.

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