Effect of the addition of beta-mercaptoethanol to a thawing solution supplemented with caffeine on the function of frozen-thawed boar sperm and on the fertility of sows after artificial insemination

S. Yamaguchi, Hiroaki Funahashi

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We have reported that artificial insemination (AI) with frozen-thawed boar semen supplemented with caffeine increased the number of uterine sperm by inhibiting the migration of polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs) into the uterine lumen, thereby improving the fertility of gilts and sows. The objective of the present study was to examine the effects of the addition of the antioxidant beta-mercaptoethanol (bME) and caffeine to the thawing solution on the function of frozen-thawed sperm, on the phagocytic activity of PMNs for sperm, and on the fertility of sows after AI. When frozen-thawed sperm were cultured in the presence of 25 or 50 μm bME, sperm capacitation and spontaneous acrosome reactions were inhibited (P <0.01). There was no effect of bME on phagocytic activity of PMNs for sperm in vitro. When hormonally treated (400 IU of equine chorionic gonadotropin + 200 IU of human chorionic gonadotropin) weaned sows experienced a single intrauterine insemination with frozen-thawed sperm (25 × 10 8 sperm per 50 ml dose) 40 h after subsequent hCG administration, pregnancy and farrowing rates were unaffected by the addition of 50 μm bME (pregnancy rate, 20 vs 21% in controls; farrowing rate, 20 vs 21%; n = 15 and 14, respectively). However, litter size tended to be higher than in the presence of 50 μm bME compared to its absence (10.0 ± 1.0 vs 5.7 ± 1.5, respectively; P <0.07). Thus, the addition of bME to the thawing solution containing caffeine could be of benefit for improving the function of frozen-thawed sperm without influencing the phagocytic activity of PMNs for sperm. Although there were no statistically significant effects of bME on pregnancy or farrowing rates, the litter size tended to be higher in the sows subjected to a fixed-time single AI treatment with synchronized ovulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)926-932
Number of pages7
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Mar 15 2012



  • Artificial insemination
  • Beta-mercaptoethanol
  • Fixed-time single ai
  • Frozen-thawed boar semen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Equine
  • Food Animals
  • Small Animals

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