The objectives of this study were 1) to determine whether insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) and insulin-like growth factor binding proteins (IGFBPs) were present in seminal plasma of stallions; 2) to compare semen parameters (IGF proteins, sperm numbers, morphology, and motility) from stallions at sexual rest (SR) and when sexually active (SA); 3) to compare semen parameters between stallions with high and low seminal plasma IGF-I concentrations; and 4) to examine the relationship between seminal plasma IGF-I concentrations and fertility parameters of stallions. Ejaculates were collected from stallions at SR (n = 51) and SA (n = 46). Concentrations of IGF-I and IGFBP-2 in seminal plasma samples were determined by radioimmunoassay. Presence of IGFBPs in equine seminal plasma was verified using immunoprecipitation and Western ligand blot procedures. IGF-I, IGFBP-2, and IGFBP-5 were present in equine seminal plasma. Concentrations of IGF-I, IGF-I/protein, total IGF-I, IGFBP-2, IGFBP-2/protein, and total IGFBP-2 were not significantly different (P ≥ 0.13) in seminal plasma between stallions at either SR or SA. At SR, stallions with higher seminal plasma IGF-I had more total IGFBP-2 per ejaculate (P < 0.01), more morphologically normal sperm (P = 0.05), and higher first-cycle pregnancy rates (P = 0.02). At SA, stallions with higher seminal plasma IGF-I had fewer cycles per pregnancy (P = 0.02). An association of seminal plasma IGF-I concentration with sperm motility, sperm morphology, and pregnancy rates in bred mares suggests that IGF-I may play a role in sperm function.
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