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1 August 2001 Evaluation of In Vitro Capacitation of Stallion Spermatozoa
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The primary aim of this study was to establish a flow cytometric technique for determining the capacitation status of stallion spermatozoa. To this end, a flow cytometric technique that demonstrates changes in plasma membrane fluidity; namely, merocyanine 540 staining, was compared with the more conventional Ca2 -dependent fluorescence microscopic technique, chlortetracycline (CTC) staining, for assessing capacitation status. In addition, the effect of bicarbonate/CO2 on the progress of capacitation and the acrosome reaction (AR) and on temporal changes in sperm motility, with particular regard to hyperactivation, was analyzed. For the study, fresh semen was washed and then incubated for 5 h in bicarbonate-containing or bicarbonate-free medium, with or without Ca2 ionophore to induce the AR, and at intervals during incubation aliquots were taken and analyzed for capacitation and acrosome status. The AR was assessed using both the CTC and fluorescein isothiocyanate-peanut agglutinin (FITC-PNA) staining techniques with similar results. In brief, it was found that merocyanine 540 detects capacitation-related changes much earlier than CTC does (0.5 h versus ∼3 h), and that flow cytometry for evaluation of capacitation and AR was a quicker (10 sec per sample) and more accurate (10 000 cells counted) technique than fluorescence microscopy. Furthermore, it was observed that Ca2 ionophore could not induce the AR in the absence of bicarbonate, but that the ionophore synergized the bicarbonate-mediated induction of the AR as detected by CTC (although it was not significant when evaluated using FITC-PNA). The percentage of hyperactive sperm in each sample was not affected by time of incubation under the experimental conditions studied. In conclusion, merocyanine 540 staining is a better method than CTC staining for evaluating the early events of capacitation for stallion spermatozoa incubated in vitro. Furthermore, bicarbonate sperm activation clearly plays a vital role in the induction of the AR in stallion spermatozoa.

Rahul Rathi, Ben Colenbrander, Mart M. Bevers, and Barend M. Gadella "Evaluation of In Vitro Capacitation of Stallion Spermatozoa," Biology of Reproduction 65(2), 462-470, (1 August 2001).
Received: 28 July 2000; Accepted: 1 March 2001; Published: 1 August 2001

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