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  • Author: E Nakatsukasa x
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E Nakatsukasa, T Inomata, T Ikeda, M Shino and N Kashiwazaki

This study reports the development of a reliable method for cryopreservation of rat epididymal spermatozoa and the production of live young by artificial insemination using these cryopreserved spermatozoa. The motility and membrane integrity of rat spermatozoa were investigated after spermatozoa had been subjected to physical stress and frozen with various concentrations of glycerol (0, 3 and 6%) either in the presence or absence of Equex Stem as cryoprotective agents. The ability of cryopreserved spermatozoa to generate normal offspring by intrauterine insemination was also evaluated. Rat spermatozoa that had been centrifuged at 700 g for 5 min showed a significant decrease in motility compared with non-centrifuged spermatozoa. In addition, after centrifugation three times the percentage of membrane-intact spermatozoa decreased to approximately 0%. The percentage of membrane-intact spermatozoa was significantly higher (P < 0.01) in semen samples that had been frozen in medium without glycerol than in samples frozen in medium with 3% glycerol. Although the addition of 0.7% Equex Stem to medium without glycerol or with 3% glycerol did not influence rates of sperm motility after freezing and thawing, the percentage of membrane-intact spermatozoa was improved by the presence of 0.7% Equex (P < 0.05). Therefore, rat spermatozoa were handled gently to avoid physical stress and were frozen in medium containing 23% egg yolk, 8% lactose monohydrate and 0.7% Equex Stem, at pH 7.4 adjusted with 10% Tris(hydroxymethyl)aminomethane solution. Thirteen female rats were inseminated into the oviductal end of both uterine horns with frozen-thawed spermatozoa. Forty-one normal live offspring were obtained from nine of the inseminated females. These results indicate that frozen-thawed rat spermatozoa can generate normal offspring. To our knowledge, this procedure is the first successful production of offspring using spermatozoa cryopreserved in liquid nitrogen.