The effect of proteins on the cervical transit of epididymal ram (Ovis aries) spermatozoa

Close, Madeleine
Sydney University


The use of cervical artificial insemination in sheep breeding is restricted due to the limited ability of cryopreserved ram sperm to traverse the ewe’s cervix before fertilisation. Hence, intrauterine laparoscopic insemination is necessary to achieve acceptable pregnancy rates. However, the expenses associated with this technique prevent its widespread use and thus limit genetic progress within the sheep industry. Previous studies have indicated that supplementation of frozen-thawed and epididymal spermatozoa with seminal plasma has improved pregnancy rates following cervical insemination. However, the seminal plasma component driving this improvement has not been determined. This study was a pilot study to assess the contribution of one component of seminal plasma to the cervical transit of ram spermatozoa. A small number of ewes (5 per group) were cervically inseminated with epididymal spermatozoa supplemented with either homologous seminal plasma or high concentrations of a purified seminal plasma component. Pregnancy rates of treatments did not significantly differ from controls (P>0.05), possibly due to protein binding issues identified through subsequent western blots. Additional studies are required to examine the binding capacity of the purified component and the appropriate dose to use to elicit sperm levels observed under natural conditions.

A copy of the thesis was not submitted.