Movement characteristics and acrosomal status of rabbit spermatozoa recovered at the site and time of fertilization.
Rabbit spermatozoa were recovered from the oviductal ampullae 11 h postcoitus by an oil microflush technique. Their movement was evaluated in the ampullar fluid, or in ampullar fluid diluted with in vitro fertilization medium, in slide preparations which were approximately 25 micron or 100 micron deep. The movement of these sperm was compared with the movement of ejaculated sperm in diluted semen. Movement parameters measured from videotapes recorded by a high-speed camera were coded according to treatment and entered into a microcomputer for statistical analysis. A total of 157 spermatozoa were recovered from the oviducts of 16 does: 152 were motile and 126 were free-swimming. Nearly all of the free-swimming sperm swam in trajectories whose average paths were circular. The flagellar beat pattern of the circular swimmers was asymmetric and nearly planar, and the sperm did not roll. Spermatozoa observed in 25-micron slide preparations produced smaller flagellar bends than sperm swimming in 100-micron preparations and tended to swim in larger circles which were oriented in the plane of the slide. Spermatozoa observed within the cumulus matrix moved in a slow, erratic, sinuous manner, but resumed rapid circling upon leaving the matrix. It was concluded that the ampullar sperm were hyperactivated, retaining this physiological condition as they entered the cumulus. The movement qualitatively resembled that of hyperactivated guinea pig and hamster spermatozoa because these species effectively swim in circles. In contrast, 80% of the ejaculated spermatozoa swam in linear trajectories, resulting from relatively symmetrical, flagellar beat patterns. The percentage of rolling spermatozoa and the rolling frequencies were less in the 25-micron than the 100-micron slide preparations. Thus, the movement parameters of both ampullar and ejaculated spermatozoa were affected by the geometry of their observation chambers. This influence should be taken into account when observing sperm motility in vitro. It could also be important in vivo, where changes in sperm movement in response to epithelial surfaces might provide an advantage for reaching the cumulus mass. Ninety-eight percent of the motile ampullar sperm were observed to have acrosomes, including all spermatozoa found within the cumulus matrix.
Suarez, SS; Katz, DF; Overstreet, JW
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