Lipid peroxide formation in relation to membrane stability of fresh and frozen thawed stallion spermatozoa.
In this study we used a new method to detect reactive oxygen species (ROS) induced damage at the level of the sperm plasma membrane in fresh and frozen-thawed stallion sperm. Lipid peroxidation (LPO) in sperm cells was assessed by a fluorescent assay involving the labeling of stallion sperm with the LPO reporter probe C11-BODIPY(581/591). The peroxidation dependent spectral emission shift of this membrane probe could be localized using inverted spectral confocal microscopy and quantified on living and deteriorated sperm cells using flow cytometry. Mass spectrometric analysis of the main endogenous lipid class, phosphatidylcholine (PC), was carried out to determine the formation of hydroxy- and hydroperoxyphosphatidylcholine in fresh sperm cells. Peroxidation as reported by the fluorescent probe corresponded with the presence of hydroxy- and hydroperoxyphosphatidylcholine in the sperm membranes, which are early stage products of LPO. This allowed us to correlate endogenous LPO with localization of this process in the living sperm cells. In absence of peroxidation inducers, only relatively little peroxidation was noted in fresh sperm cells whereas some mid-piece specific probe oxidation was noted for frozen-thawed sperm cells. After induction of peroxidation in fresh and frozen-thawed sperm cells with the 0.1 mM of lipid soluble ROS tert-butylhydrogen peroxide (t-BUT) intense probe oxidation was produced in the mid-piece, whereas the probe remained intact in the sperm head, demonstrating antioxidant activity in the head of fresh sperm cells. At higher levels of t-BUT, probe peroxidation was also noted for the sperm head followed by a loss of membranes there. Frozen-thawed sperm were more vulnerable to t-BUT than fresh sperm. The potential importance of the new assays for sperm assessments is discussed.