Fresh and post-thaw parameters (motility, morphology and viability) of stallion epididymal spermatozoa that have been and have not been exposed to seminal plasma were evaluated, and directly compared to fresh and post-thaw parameters of ejaculated spermatozoa.
Six sperm categories of each stallion (n=4) were evaluated for motility, morphology and viability. These categories were fresh ejaculated spermatozoa (Fr-E), fresh epididymal spermatozoa that had been exposed to seminal plasma (Fr-SP+), fresh epididymal spermatozoa that had never been exposed to seminal plasma (Fr-SP−), frozen–thawed ejaculated spermatozoa (Cr-E), frozen–thawed epididymal spermatozoa that had been exposed to seminal plasma prior to freezing (Cr-SP+) and frozen–thawed epididymal spermatozoa that had never been exposed to seminal plasma (Cr-SP−).
Results show that seminal plasma stimulates initial motility of fresh epididymal stallion spermatozoa while this difference in progressive motility is no longer present post-thaw; and that progressive motility of fresh or frozen–thawed ejaculated stallion spermatozoa is not always a good indicator for post-thaw progressive motility of epididymal spermatozoa.
This study shows that seminal plasma has a positive influence on the incidence of overall sperm defects, midpiece reflexes and distal cytoplasmic droplets in frozen–thawed stallion epididymal spermatozoa while the occurance of midpiece reflexes is likely to be linked to distal cytoplasmic droplets. Furthermore, seminal plasma does not have an influence on viability of fresh and frozen–thawed morphologically normal epididymal spermatozoa.
We recommend the retrograde flushing technique using seminal plasma as flushing medium to harvest and freeze stallion epididymal spermatozoa.