For sperm preservation, semen is generally diluted with extender containing egg yolk (EY), but the mechanisms of sperm protection by EY are unclear. The major proteins of bull seminal plasma (BSP proteins: BSP-A1/A2, BSP-A3, and BSP-30-kDa) bind to sperm surface at ejaculation and stimulate cholesterol and phospholipid efflux from the sperm membrane. Since EY low-density lipoprotein fraction (LDF) interacts specifically with BSP proteins, it is proposed that the sequestration of BSP proteins in seminal plasma by EY-LDF represents the major mechanism of sperm protection by EY. In order to gain further insight into this mechanism, we investigated the effect of seminal plasma, EY, and EY-LDF on the binding of BSP proteins to sperm and the lipid efflux from the sperm membrane. As shown by immunodetection, radioimmunoassays, and lipid analysis, when semen was incubated undiluted or diluted with control extender (without EY or EY-LDF), BSP proteins bound to sperm in a time-dependent manner, and there is a continuous cholesterol and phospholipid efflux from the sperm membrane. In contrast, when semen was diluted with extender containing EY or EY-LDF, there was 50%–80% fewer BSP proteins associated with sperm and a significant amount of lipid added to sperm membrane during incubation. In addition, sperm function analysis showed that the presence of EY or EY-LDF in the extender preserved sperm motility. These results show that LDF is the constituent of EY that prevents binding of the BSP proteins to sperm and lipid efflux from the sperm membrane and is beneficial to sperm functions during sperm preservation.
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