Success with in vitro fertilization (IVF) using inbred strains of mice varies considerably and appears to be related to the proportion of motile spermatozoa present in epididymal sperm samples of different strains. In this study, motile spermatozoa were separated from the original samples using a column of Sephadex G25. IVF rates were compared between separated and nonseparated samples of epididymal spermatozoa before and after cryopreservation. Oocytes and spermatozoa were obtained from FVB, DBA/2, C57BL/6J, and BALB/c inbred mice; and from F1 (C57BL/6J ;ts DBA/2) hybrid mice, and isogenic gametes were used for IVF. These strains of mice were chosen because of their common use in transgenesis and mutagenesis studies. Dulbecco PBS was used for sperm separation on Sephadex, 18% raffinose, and 3% skim milk for cryopreservation; T6 medium for IVF; and mKSOMAA for embryo culture. There was a marked improvement in the rate of fertilization using fresh spermatozoa after motile spermatozoa were separated in C57BL/6J and BALB/c strains (92% vs. 58%, 79% vs. 44%) but no differences were found in fertilization rates between separated and nonseparated spermatozoa in F1, FVB, and DBA/2 strains (99% vs. 83%, 95% vs. 93%, 86% vs. 87%, respectively). After cryopreservation, higher rates of fertilization were obtained with separated motile samples in all strains; the greatest improvements were obtained with spermatozoa from C57BL/6J and BALB/c strains (40% vs. 16% and 51% vs. 14% for separated and nonseparated spermatozoa, respectively). No differences were found between the proportions of 14.5-day fetuses developing from embryos derived from separated and nonseparated spermatozoa with or without cryopreservation (33% to 46%). In conclusion, the fertility of frozen-thawed mouse epididymal spermatozoa improves significantly when highly motile populations of spermatozoa are separated for freezing.
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