Assessment of Chilling Injury in Boar Spermatozoa by Kinematic Patterns and Competitive Sperm-Oviduct Binding In Vitro
Sensitive detection of chilling injury in boar spermatozoa is required to evaluate novel hypothermic preservation concepts. The study’s aim was to examine whether analyses of motility patterns and sperm binding in a competitive oviduct explant assay (cOEA) sensitively detect chilling-induced alterations in sperm function. Semen samples (n = seven boars) were split into four subsamples by dilution either in Beltsville Thawing Solution (BTS) or Androstar® Plus and stored at 5 °C or 17 °C. Storage temperature had a significant effect on the distribution of spermatozoa in seven major kinematic clusters. The effect size of chilling at 5 °C as estimated by Cramer’s V was higher (p < 0.05) in the BTS medium (0.21) compared to AndroStar® Plus (0.11). Spermatozoa extended in Androstar® Plus had higher relative binding capacity compared to sperm in BTS (p < 0.05). Binding indices correlated with the percentage of viable, acrosome-intact (r = 0.62) and motile spermatozoa (r = 0.72, both p < 0.001). The cluster size of sperm with slow, vigorous movement was negatively correlated with sperm-oviduct binding (r = −0.43, p < 0.05). In conclusion, the cluster analysis of sperm kinematics and competitive sperm oviduct binding in vitro present meaningful biological tests to assess novel concepts for hypothermic semen preservation.