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Application of Techniques for Sperm Selection in Fresh and Frozen-Thawed Stallion Semen


Authors’ address (for correspondence): Dr Harald Sieme, Niedersächsisches Landgestüt Celle, Spörckenstr. 10, 29221 Celle, Germany. E-mail:


The objective of this research was to improve the techniques in processing chilled and frozen-thawed horse semen. In a preliminary experiment (Exp. I), different techniques for sperm selection and preparation [Swim-up, Glass wool (GW) filtration, Glass wool Sephadex (GWS) filtration; Percoll] were tested for their suitability for equine spermatozoa and results were compared with the routine procedure by dilution (Exp. I). In the main experiment (Exp. II), two sperm preparation techniques (GWS, Leucosorb®) refering to the results of Exp. I and a previous study of our group (Pferdcheilkunde 1996 12, 773) were selected for processing complete ejaculates either for cooled-storage or cryopreservation. In a third experiment (Exp. III), pregnancy rates from inseminations with semen processed according to the techniques tested in Exp. II were compared with those obtained with semen processed according to routine procedures. In Exp. I (six stallions, six ejaculates/stallion), between 48 and 92% of spermatozoa were lost following the different sperm selection procedures (p < 0.05). Preparation of sperm increased percentage of progressively motile spermatozoa (pms) [Swim-up, GW, GWS vs dilution, Percoll (p < 0.05)] and decreased percentage of sperm head abnormalities [Swim-up, GW, GWS vs dilution, Percoll (p < 0.05)] probably by not improving the quality of individual cells, but by elimination of spermatozoa of inferior quality. In Exp. II (eight stallions, three ejaculates/stallion) Leucosorb® and GWS procedures allowed the filtration of large volumes (extended ejaculates) for routine laboratory practice. GWS and Leucosorb® filtration resulted in increased motility, membrane integrity and sperm viability after storage of spermatozoa until 48 h at +5°C when compared with control (diluted) and centrifuged semen (p < 0.05). Significantly more spermatozoa were recovered after centrifugation (87.8 ± 15.4%) compared with GWS (63.5 ± 18.6%) and Leucosorb® filtration (53.6 ± 22.3%). GWS or Leucosorb® procedure resulted in successful cryopreservation of stallion semen without centrifugation for removal of seminal plasma. The per cycle conception rate of inseminated mares using 200 × 106 pms transferred within 8 h after collection of semen was not affected by GWS filtration or Leucosorb® separation when compared with centrifugation (n.s.; Exp. III). In conclusion, GWS and Leucosorb® filtration results in the improvement of semen quality and should be considered as a method for stallion semen processing. Additional studies are needed for the evaluation of potentially higher fertilizing ability of stallion spermatozoa separated by techniques for sperm selection.