Successful Cryopreservation of Domestic Cat (Felis catus) Epididymal Sperm after Slow Equilibration to 15 or 10°C

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ContentsTo support conservation strategies in wild species, simple but highly reproducible procedures of sperm cryopreservation are required for an application under field conditions. We used epididymal sperm of the domestic cat to optimize a sperm freezing procedure for felid species, particularly questioning the demand for sperm cooling to 4°C. We equilibrated sperm during slow cooling to only 15 or 10°C in a Tes–Tris–fructose extender with final concentrations of 4.7% (v/v) glycerol and 10% (v/v) of the water-soluble fraction of hen's egg yolk (low-density lipoproteins). Subsequently, sperm were frozen over liquid nitrogen. Total and progressive motility (mean ± SD) after thawing was 60.7 ± 8.6% and 53.9 ± 9.6% in samples cooled to 15°C or 61.6 ± 9.5% and 55.3 ± 9.9% in samples cooled to 10°C. Therefore, a one-step addition of glycerol to sperm at room temperature together with the freezing extender, the use of cryovials (loaded with diluted sperm aliquots of 300 μl), an equilibration period of 40 min comprising slow cooling to 15°C at a rate of approximately −0.14 K/min before rapid freezing over liquid nitrogen, yielded satisfying results. Cooling, freezing and thawing rates were exactly characterized as a prerequisite for further optimization and to provide a repeatable protocol to other practitioners.

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