IMPRESS – Improved production strategies for endangered freshwater species

Comparison of European eel sperm cryopreservation protocols with standardization as a target

The critical situation of the European eel (Anguilla anguilla) has urged the development of sperm cryopreservation protocols for reproduction in captivity and cryobanking. In the last years, two research groups have developed their own protocols in Spain and Hungary with positive results, but difficult to compare.

Here, a series of experiments were conducted to test the quality of thawed sperm after using both protocols, determining which of them produce the best results and aiming for standardization. The quality of thawed sperm was assessed by studying the motility and kinetic values of thawed sperm from both cryopreservation protocols using a computer-assisted sperm analysis (CASA-Mot) system.

In addition, a viability analysis was performed using flow cytometry to test if the cryoprotectants or the freezing-thawing process led to a reduction in spermatozoa survival. Furthermore, since during cryopreservation the sperm was treated with methylated cryoprotectants (DMSO or methanol) that may induce epigenetic changes in the sperm DNA (cytosine methylation) and could affect the offspring, we conducted a luminometric methylation assay (LUMA) to study the DNA methylation levels induced by both protocols.

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