Freezing and thawing alter chromatin stability of ejaculated human spermatozoa: Fluorescence acridine orange staining and Feulgen-DNA cytophotometric studies



Cryopreservation and freezing-thawing effects on the fertilizing ability of human spermatozoa commonly are evaluated by post-thaw motility. Various studies have depicted the ultrastructural changes caused by freezing-thawing, yet the chromatin alterations have been studied very limitedly. Our aim was to determine the extent to which freezing-thawing alters the chromatin of human spermatozoa, using two analytical methods: acridine orange staining and Feulgen-DNA cytophotometric studies. Both methods revealed a dramatic effect of freezing-thawing on sperm chromatin: the native DNA content decreased as did the Feulgen-DNA content, and sperm surface area was reduced. These results indicate an effect on DNA, diminished accessibility for Feulgen, and a decrease in nuclear surface area and prompt us to hypothesize a relationship between an “overcondensation” state for sperm chromatin after freezing-thawing and a lower conception rate for human semen after cryostorage.