Beneficial effect of extracellular adenosine 5′-triphosphate treatment on the Indochinese leopard (Panthera pardus delacouri) sperm quality after cryopreservation

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The Indochinese leopard (Panthera pardus delacouri) population, included in CITES Appendix I, has been declining for decades. Proper gamete preservation condition is critical for breeding programme management using artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization (IVF). The present study aimed at investigating the impact of post-thawing treatment of leopard semen with extracellular adenosine 5′-triphosphate (ATPe) on sperm quality (including morphological traits and ability to fertilize an oocyte). Semen from six adult male leopards was collected by electroejaculation (one ejaculation per cat). After the evaluation of the fresh sample quality, the semen was cryopreserved (10 × 106 cells per straw; two straws per cat). After thawing, the sperm sample from the first straw of each cat was divided into three aliquots: control (no ATPe), supplemented with 1.0 or 2.5 mM ATPe that were evaluated for sperm quality at 10, 30 min and 3 hr post-thawing. The sperm sample from the second straw, supplemented with 0, 1.0 or 2.5 mM ATPe for 30 min, was assessed for IVF with domestic cat oocytes. Sperm quality (all metrics) was negatively affected by the cryopreservation process (p ≤ .05). However, the percentage of sperm motility, level of progressive motility and percentage of plasma membrane integrity did not differ (p > .05) among post-thawing groups. The sperm mitochondrial membrane potential was enhanced (p ≤ .05) by ATPe treatment (1.0 and 2.5 mM; 10 min to 3 hr of incubation). Furthermore, incubation of ATPe (1.0 and 2.5 mM) for 30 min could promote sperm velocity patterns (curvilinear velocity; VCL and straight line velocity; VSL) (p ≤ .05). The percentage of pronuclear formation and cleaved embryos was increased (p ≤ .05) after 1.0 ATPe treatment (49.8 ± 2.8; 45.9 ± 1.5) compared to 0 mM (41.4 ± 3.3; 38.9 ± 0.5) whereas the number of sperm binding/oocyte did not significantly differ among groups. In summary, we suggest that ATPe activated the velocity of Indochinese leopard sperm motility that may lead to faster sperm/oocyte binding and sperm penetration (factors of successful embryo development).

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