The role of seminal plasma (SP) components on the maintenance of motility, viability and fertilising ability of frozen-thawed spermatozoa is of considerable interest. However, differences observed in constituents of SP among males could explain differences in fertility obtained in vivo. Two experiments were designed to examine the effects of seminal plasma on fertility from cervically inseminated frozen-thawed semen. The objective of Experiment 1 was to investigate if source or type of SP influences pregnancy rate. Seminal plasma was collected from rams previously classified as having either High (HSP; n=3) or Low (LSP; n=3) fertility in vivo. Artificial SP (fructose/sodium solution with 10% BSA; ASP) was made. Frozen semen from the same 6 rams was thawed and inseminated (Control) or resuspended either in HSP, LSP or ASP (20% in semen) prior to insemination of ewes (n=284, over 2 farms). The overall pregnancy rate was 28.1%. Treatments (Control, ASP, HSP and LSP) were not significantly different (P>0.3). There was no difference between HSP and LSP (P>0.5), and no effect of using ASP compared to ram SP (P>0.7), on pregnancy rate. As there was no effect of SP on pregnancy rate a repeat experiment (Experiment 2) was designed to test the effect of washing and selecting motile sperm prior to resuspending in phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) containing SP on pregnancy rate. Frozen-thawed semen from each of 2 rams was centrifuged through a density gradient, pellets were centrifuged through a wash medium and the sperm concentration/ram was counted. Sperm cells were resuspended in: (1) control PBS, (2) PBS containing 30% HSP or (3) PBS containing 30% LSP to give 100 x 10(6) motile sperm in 0.25 mL. Control straws were thawed and inseminated directly. Ewes (n=223 over 2 farms) were inseminated 57 h post-sponge withdrawal and those not returning to oestrus were slaughtered 29-50 days post-insemination for pregnancy determination. In Experiment 2, the pregnancy rate for Control, PBS, HSP and LSP were 15.4%, 2.3%, 0% and 0%, respectively, for Farm 1 (P>0.05) and 17.8%, 11.0%, 3.9% and 12.4%, respectively, for Farm 2. Under the conditions of the current study, addition of SP from different donors of either High or Low fertility status to frozen-thawed ram semen post-thawing did not improve pregnancy rate in ewes. ASP had no effect on pregnancy rate in ewes when added to frozen-thawed semen. Washing and selection of motile sperm prior to resuspension in PBS with or without SP (30%) before insemination had a negative effect on pregnancy rate in cervically inseminated ewes. Hence, the addition of seminal plasma or some of its constituents to semen does not appear to improve pregnancy rate in cervically inseminated ewes.
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