Improved Bovine ICSI Outcomes by Sperm Selected after Combined Heparin-Glutathione Treatment
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Despite widespread application of intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) in human-assisted reproductive techniques (ART), the efficiency of this method is still far from satisfactory in livestock, particularly in the bovine species with its unique sperm condensation. On the basis of the natural chemical structure of chromatin in condensed sperm, we developed a novel combined heparin-reduced glutathione (GSH) sperm pretreatment that improves the efficiency of bovine ICSI via selection of the most appropriate sperm at the time of ICSI. Assessment of sperm DNA integrity revealed that this pretreatment can be considered as a safe and efficient approach for in vitro sperm decondensation when compared to conventional sperm pretreatments with dithiothreitol (DTT). Injection of completely decondensed bull sperm derived from this pretreatment significantly improved fertilization and blastocyst formation rates compared to untreated or intact sperm injection (34.8 ± 2.7 and 29.1 ± 1.5 vs. 12.0 ± 3.2 and 15.9 ± 1.2%, respectively; p<0.05). Real-time PCR analysis revealed that expression of pluripotent and anti-apoptosis markers in blastocysts derived by injection of completely decondensed sperm from heparin-GSH pretreatment were comparable to IVF when compared to the DTT pretreatment and control ICSI groups (p<0.05). The results of this study suggested that the degree of sperm decondensation derived from heparin-GSH pretreatment may affect ICSI efficiency in bovine.
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