Changes in rat spermatozoa function after cooling, cryopreservation and centrifugation processes

Cryobiology. 2012 Dec;65(3):215-23. doi: 10.1016/j.cryobiol.2012.06.006. Epub 2012 Jun 30.


Rat sperm cryopreservation is an effective method of archiving valuable strains for biomedical research and handling of rat spermatozoa is very important for successful cryopreservation. The aim of this study was to evaluate changes in rat sperm function during cryopreservation and centrifugation. Epididymal rat spermatozoa were subjected to cooling and freezing-thawing processes and then motility, plasma membrane integrity (PMI), mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) and reactive oxygen species (ROS) were compared before and after minimum centrifugation force (200×g). Cryopreservation decreased sperm motility, PMI, and MMP (P<0.05). Basal (without ROS inducer, tert-butyl hydroperoxide [TBHP] treatment) and stimulated ROS (with TBHP treatment) were increased in viable cooled spermatozoa compared to viable fresh spermatozoa (P<0.01), with equal susceptibility to TBHP among fresh, cooled, and frozen-thawed spermatozoa. Centrifugation decreased motility and PMI of frozen-thawed spermatozoa (P<0.05). Centrifugation decreased basal ROS of all spermatozoa (P<0.01), while it led to higher susceptibility to TBHP in viable cooled spermatozoa, showing higher increased fold in ROS and decreased rate in viability by TBHP in viable cooled spermatozoa (P<0.05). Cooling process was the major step of ROS generation, with loss in sperm motility, PMI, and MMP. Centrifugation affected function of cryopreserved spermatozoa. These data suggest that centrifugation makes rat spermatozoa susceptible to external ROS source, in particular during cooling process. Thus, protection from ROS damage and minimizing centrifugation should be considered during cryopreservation and post-thaw use of cryopreserved epididymal rat spermatozoa.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Centrifugation / methods
  • Centrifugation / veterinary
  • Cryopreservation / methods
  • Cryopreservation / veterinary*
  • Epididymis / cytology
  • Male
  • Membrane Potential, Mitochondrial
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Semen Preservation / methods
  • Semen Preservation / veterinary*
  • Sperm Motility
  • Spermatozoa / cytology*
  • Spermatozoa / metabolism


  • Reactive Oxygen Species