Subzero water permeability parameters of mouse spermatozoa in the presence of extracellular ice and cryoprotective agents

Ramachandra V. Devireddy, David J. Swanlund, Kenneth P. Roberts, John C. Bischof

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations

Abstract

Optimization of techniques for cryopreservation of mammalian sperm is limited by a lack of knowledge regarding water permeability characteristics during freezing in the presence of extracellular ice and cryoprotective agents (CPAs). Cryomicroscopy cannot be used to measure dehydration during freezing in mammalian sperm because they are highly nonspherical and their small dimensions are at the limits of light microscopic resolution. Using a new shape-independent differential scanning calorimeter (DSC) technique, volumetric shrinkage during freezing of ICR mouse epididymal sperm cell suspensions was obtained at cooling rates of 5 and 20°C/min in the presence of extracellular ice and CPAs. Using previously published data, the mouse sperm cell was modeled as a cylinder (122-μm long, radius 0.46 μm) with an osmotically inactive cell volume (V(b)) of 0.61V(o), where V(o) is the isotonic cell volume. By fitting a model of water transport to the experimentally obtained volumetric shrinkage data, the best-fit membrane permeability parameters (L(pg) and E(Lp)) were determined. The 'combined best-fit' membrane permeability parameters at 5 and 20°C/min for mouse sperm cells in solution are as follows: in D-PBS: L(pg) = 1.7 x 10-15 m3/Ns (0.01 μm/min-atm) and E(Lp) = 94.1 kJ/mole (22.5 kcal/mole) (R2 = 0.94); in 'low' CPA media (consisting of 1% glycerol, 6% raffinose, and 15% egg yolk in D-PBS): L(pg)[cpa] = 1.7 x 10-15 m3/Ns (0.01 μm/min-atm) and E(Lp)[cpa] = 122.2 kJ/mole (29.2 kcal/mole) (R2 = 0.98); and in 'high' CPA media (consisting of 4% glycerol, 16% raffinose, and 15% egg yolk in D-PBS): L(pg)[cpa] = 0.68 x 10-15 m3/Ns (0.004 μm/min-atm) and E(Lp)[cpa] = 63.6 kJ/mole (15.2 kcal/mole) (R2 = 0.99). These parameters are significantly different than previously published parameters for mammalian sperm obtained at suprazero temperatures and at subzero temperatures in the absence of extracellular ice. The parameters obtained in this study also suggest that damaging intracellular ice formation (IIF) could occur in mouse sperm cells at cooling rates as low as 25-45°C/min, depending on the concentrations of the CPAs. This may help to explain the discrepancy between the empirically determined optimal cryopreservation cooling rates, 10-40°C/min, and the numerically predicted optimal cooling rates, greater than 5000°C/min, obtained using suprazero mouse sperm permeability parameters that do not account for the presence of extracellular ice. As an independent test of this prediction, the percentages of viable and motile sperm cells were obtained after freezing at two different cooling rates ('slow' or 5°C/min; 'fast,' or 20°C/min) in both the low and high CPA media. The greatest sperm motility and viability was found with the low CPA media under fast (20°C/min) cooling conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)764-775
Number of pages12
JournalBiology of reproduction
Volume61
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1999

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