Identification of Apoptotic Bodies in Equine Semen



Apoptosis in the testis is required to ensure an efficient spermatogenesis. However, sometimes, defective germ cells that are marked for elimination during this process escape elimination in the testes, giving rise to ejaculates with increased percentages of abnormal and apoptotic spermatozoa and a high percentage of apoptotic bodies. Apoptosis markers in the ejaculate have been associated with low fertility, either in animals or humans. Therefore, the goal of this study was to investigate whether fresh equine semen contains apoptotic bodies [initially named Merocyanine 540 (M540) bodies] and to study the relationship between the quantity of these bodies and cell concentration, the volume of ejaculate, viability and motility. Moreover, we also studied whether the presence apoptotic bodies in fresh semen was related to the resistance of the stallion spermatozoa to being incubated at 37°C or being frozen and thawed. Fresh equine semen was stained with fluorescent dyes such as M540 and Annexin-V. Active Caspase 3 was studied in fresh semen through Western blotting and immunofluorescence with a specific antibody. Sperm kinematics was assessed in fresh, incubated and thawed samples using computer-assisted semen analysis, and viability was evaluated with the LIVE/DEAD Sperm Viability Kit. Overall, our results demonstrate for the first time the presence of apoptotic bodies in equine semen. The quantity of apoptotic bodies was highly variable among stallions and was positively correlated with Caspase 3 activity in fresh samples and negatively correlated with the viability and motility of stallion spermatozoa after the cryopreservation process.