Author(s): Rath D, Niemann H
The objective of this study was to compare the in vitro fertilizing capacity of porcine spermatozoa from fresh and frozen-thawed semen and frozen-thawed epididymal spermatozoa obtained from identical boars. Prior to IVF, fresh spermatozoa were capacitated in TCM 199. Frozen semen samples were stored in 0.25-ml plastic straws using a lactose/glycerol/orvus-es-paste extender. Cumulus-oocyte-complexes (COC) obtained from superovulated prepuberal gilts were fertilized in vitro within 2 h after aspiration with one of the semen samples. After final dilution for IVF, frozen-thawed epididymal semen samples showed motility rates (72.2 +/- 5.6%) similar to those of spermatozoa in fresh semen (76.4 +/- 4.5%), while sperm motility decreased in frozen-thawed ejaculated semen (40.2 +/- 9.4%). Considerable individual differences in sperm motility between boars were observed for ejaculated semen but not for epididymal semen. Enhanced fertilizing capacity of frozen-thawed epididymal spermatozoa was confirmed by pronucleus formation and cleavage rates, with significantly more embryos developing to the 2- and 4-cell stages compared with the groups fertilized with fresh or with frozen-thawed ejaculated semen (59.7 vs 14.6 and 16%). In conclusion, consistent in vitro fertilization rates with minimal semen variability are obtained using frozen-thawed epididymal semen. Following a modified freezing protocol, epididymal spermatozoa can easily be frozen in small containers for IVF, with higher resultant motility and fertilization rates than with ejaculated semen.