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Nerve growth factor-β effects on post-thaw bull semen quality: Effects of nerve growth factor-β added to extenders for cryopreservation of electro-ejaculated and epididymal bull semen


Nerve growth factor-β (NGF) is a seminal plasma protein associated with improved sperm membrane integrity and motility in mammalian species. The objective of this study was to compare post-thaw semen quality from both ejaculated and pididymal-collected bull sperm incubated with purified NGF prior to cryopreservation. Semen was obtained from Angus × Simmental crossbred bulls (n = 10) collected by electroejaculation, followed by castration and epididymal sperm collections 3 days later. Semen samples were incubated with extender having 0 ng/mL (CONT), 0.5 ng/mL (LOW), 5 ng/mL (MED), or 50 ng/mL (HIGH) of purified NGF prior to cryopreservation. Sperm motility was assessed in each sample prior to treatment and cryopreservation and at post-thaw. Flow cytometry was used for post-thaw assessment of sperm viability (SYBR-14/PI), acrosome integrity (FITC-PNA/PI), and chromatin stability (acridine orange). Values for post-thaw sperm motility and velocity variables were decreased, while linearity was increased in samples of the HIGH compared with CONT group (P < 0.01), but there were no differences in epididymal samples (P> 0.05). Samples from the HIGH group also had a lesser amplitude of lateral head displacement at 2.5 and 3 h post-thaw (P < 0.01). Post-thaw sperm viability, acrosome integrity, and DNA fragmentation index were not affected by NGF treatment in either ejaculated or epididymal sperm (P> 0.05). In conclusion, supplementation of freezing extender with NGF had minimal effects on post-thaw sperm quality in bulls. Results indicate NGF may have a function in preventing premature sperm hyperactivation in ejaculated, but not epididymal-collected spermatozoa. Fertility studies, both in vitro and in vivo, are warranted to ascertain the relevancy of these findings.

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