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Differences in ability of jennies and mares to conceive with cooled and frozen semen containing glycerol or not

Abstract : A suitable method for the cryopreservation of donkey semen would be very valuable for the ex situ management of genetic diversity in this species. This report uses a variety of observation and trials to evaluate the effect of cryoprotectants in per-cycle pregnancy rates (PC) in equids females (jennies (donkey) and mares (horse)). This was explored by (1) comparing the results of insemination of jennies and mares with cooled or frozen donkey semen, (2) examining the possible toxic effect of the cryoprotectant (CPA) glycerol in these two species and (3) studying alternative solutions. Donkey and horse semen was either used immediately, or cooled according to some steps of the pre-freezing procedure or frozen and thawed. The pre-freezing procedure included semen dilution, centrifugation, resuspension in milk or in INRA82 + 2% egg yolk + various % CPA (expressed as final concentrations in extended semen (v/v)) and then cooling to 4 degrees C. PC was similar in mares and jennies inseminated with donkey semen cooled to 4 degrees C in milk. However, the PC was significantly higher in mares than in jennies when donkey semen was frozen with 2.2% glycerol (36%, n = 50 cycles vs. 11%, n = 38 cycles; P < 0.01). Increasing the concentrations of glycerol (0, 2.2, 3.5, 4.8%) before cooling stallion semen resulted in a progressive decrease in mare PC (87, 53, 53, 13% (n = 15 cycles for each concentration); P < 0.0001). The addition of 2.2% glycerol before cooling donkey semen decreased the PC measured in jennies to 0. The replacement of glycerol by 2% dimethylformamide increased the fertility obtained in jennies with cooled donkey semen (PC: 67%, n= 12 cycles) but did not increase the fertility obtained with frozen-thawed donkey semen (PC: 11%, n = 28 cycles with dimethylformamide vs. 0%, n = 16 cycles with glycerol). In conclusion, this study clearly shows that the ability of jennies to conceive after AI with donkey frozen semen is lower than that of mares. Glycerol affects the fertility of donkey and stallion spermatozoa as early as during the pre-freezing procedure. In consequence, the glycerol level must be low in frozen equine semen to provide good fertility. The toxic dose of glycerol for donkey spermatozoa seems to be almost half that for stallion spermatozoa. Whether this greater sensitivity of donkey spermatozoa to glycerol is responsible for the low success of semen cryopreservation in jennies is not so obvious because replacement of glycerol by dimethylformamide was not much more effective in terms of fertility. (C) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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Marianne Vidament, P. Vincent, F.X. Martin, Michèle Magistrini, Elisabeth Blesbois. Differences in ability of jennies and mares to conceive with cooled and frozen semen containing glycerol or not. Animal Reproduction Science, Elsevier Masson, 2009, 112 (1-2), pp.22-35. ⟨10.1016/j.anireprosci.2008.03.016⟩. ⟨hal-02665165⟩

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