Cholesterol-Loaded Cyclodextrin Increases the Cholesterol Content of Goat Sperm to Improve Cold and Osmotic Resistance and Maintain Sperm Function after Cryopreservation

Biol Reprod. 2016 Apr;94(4):85. doi: 10.1095/biolreprod.115.128553. Epub 2016 Feb 17.


The success of semen cryopreservation depends on sperm membrane integrity and function after thawing. Cholesterol-loaded cyclodextrin (CLC) is used for in vitro incorporation of cholesterol to protect cells against cold temperatures. We hypothesized that CLC treatment also enhances sperm cholesterol content to increase tolerance to osmotic shock and cryoresistance, thereby improving fertility. We confirmed the fact that treatment of goat semen with 3 mg/ml CLC increases sperm cholesterol content using both the Liebermann-Burchard approach and filipin III labeling of membrane cholesterol. Sperm were then treated with or without CLC and cryopreserved. After thawing, sperm cholesterol dramatically fell, even in the presence of CLC, which explains the mechanism of cryocapacitation. CLC treatment, however, maintained a normal prefreeze cholesterol level in sperm after cryopreservation. Furthermore, fresh sperm treated with CLC and subjected to either cold shock or incubated in hypo-, iso-, and hyperosmotic media, designed to mimic stresses associated with freezing/thawing, displayed increased temperature and osmotic tolerance. CLC treatment also improved sperm viability, motility, and acrosome integrity after thawing. Furthermore, CLC treatment did not affect the sperm's ability to undergo in vitro capacitation according to chlortetracycline fluorescence and protein tyrosine phosphorylation. A pilot field trial demonstrated that artificial insemination with sperm that underwent increased cholesterol levels following CLC treatment yielded higher fertility ( ITALIC! P< 0.1) and proliferation ( ITALIC! P< 0.05) rates in vivo than untreated semen from the same ejaculate samples. These observations suggest that CLC treatment could be used to improve cryoprotection during the freezing and thawing of goat sperm.

Keywords: acrosome reaction; artificial insemination; capacitation; cholesterol; cold shock; cyclodextrin; osmotic tolerance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acrosome Reaction
  • Animals
  • Cholesterol / metabolism*
  • Cryopreservation*
  • Cyclodextrins*
  • Exocytosis
  • Female
  • Fertility
  • Freezing
  • Goats
  • Male
  • Osmotic Pressure
  • Sperm Capacitation
  • Spermatozoa / metabolism*


  • Cyclodextrins
  • Cholesterol