Freezing chicken semen: Influence of base medium osmolality, cryoprotectants, cryoprotectant concentration, and cooling rate on post-thaw sperm survival

Woelders, H.; Wit, A.A.C. De; Engel, B.; Hulsegge, B.; Grasseau, I.; Blesbois, E.; Bernal, B.; Santiago-Moreno, J.


A classical chicken semen diluent (Lake's 7.1 diluent) was modified to have lowered osmolalities (ranging from 290 to 410 mOsm/kg). The modified medium with physiological osmolality of 325 mOsm/kg allowed cold storage of fresh semen for several days with very little loss of membrane integrity and motility, while high osmolalities inhibited motility. This modified medium was then used as base for freezing medium to test effects of the type and concentration of cryoprotective agent (CPA), and the cooling rate (CR). A number of CPAs (methylformamide, methylacetamide, dimethylformamide (DMF), dimethylacetamide (DMA), diethylformamide, and propylene glycol) were first compared by freezing semen with 0.6 mol/l of the respective CPA at a cooling rate of 250 °C/min. Post-thaw motility and membrane integrity were highest with DMA and DMF. Finally, in more detailed factorial experiments, semen from individual cocks or pooled semen was frozen using CRs of 4, 50, 250, and 440 °C/min and DMA concentrations ([DMA]) of 0.4, 0.6, 1.0, and 1.5 mol/l. Straws from each semen sample x treatment combination were divided for semen assessment at three different research groups for sperm motility, membrane integrity, kinked tails, and DNA fragmentation, using microscopy, computer assisted motility analysis, and flow cytometry. There were clear effects of both CR and [DMA] and their interaction. CRs 50 and 250 °C/min gave best post-thaw sperm performance. Higher DMA concentrations gave better post-thaw membrane integrity, but concentrations above 1.0 mol/l can decrease sperm velocity or even inhibit sperm motility. Therefore [DMA] may best be 0.6–1.0 mol/l at a CR of 50–250 °C/min.