A Pilot Study on the Uptake of Propidium Iodide and YO-PRO-1 Iodide through the Pannexin Channels in Wallachian Frozen-Thawed Ram Spermatozoa

Folia Biol (Praha). 2023;69(4):127-132. doi: 10.14712/fb2023069040127.


Propidium iodide (PI) and YO-PRO-1 (YPI) dyes are routinely used to determine sperm viability in many livestock species. It is commonly accepted that these dyes penetrate only sperm cells with damaged plasma membranes. Recently, however, the mechanism of dye uptake unrelated to damaged plasma membranes, but instead related to pannexin channels in dog and stallion sperm cells was demonstrated. This pilot study aimed to evaluate the role of pannexins in the uptake of PI and YPI dyes on Wallachian frozen-thawed ram spermatozoa by flow cytometry using probenecid, a specific inhibitor of pannexin channels. Additionally, the expression of pannexins in Wallachian sperm was evaluated directly (by qRT-PCR). The results demonstrate the active role of pannexin channels in the uptake of PI and YPI dyes on frozen-thawed Wallachian ram sperm. In conclusion, when using the PI or YPI exclusion assay to determine Wallachian frozen-thawed ram sperm viability, the danger of overestimating the number of spermatozoa with the damaged plasma membrane must be considered. The observed breed-specific, and more importantly, individual differences in gene expression as well as in dye uptake indicate the need for further studies.

Keywords: PANX1; PANX2; flow cytometry; frozen-thawed spermatozoa; qRT-PCR.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Benzoxazoles
  • Coloring Agents
  • Cryopreservation / methods
  • Cryopreservation / veterinary
  • Dogs
  • Horses
  • Iodides*
  • Male
  • Pilot Projects
  • Propidium
  • Quinolinium Compounds*
  • Semen
  • Semen Preservation* / methods
  • Semen Preservation* / veterinary
  • Spermatozoa


  • Propidium
  • YO-PRO 1
  • Iodides
  • Coloring Agents
  • Benzoxazoles
  • Quinolinium Compounds