Gangliosides, the sialic acid-containing glycosphyngolipids, are amphiphilic compounds which in micellar form affect the properties and functions of a cellular membrane. The aim of this study was to test whether exogenous gangliosides supplied to cryopreservation media before freezing could protect sperm cells from cryopreservation-induced DNA damage assessed by Comet assay. Additionally, to investigate whether gangliosides were also able to reduce membrane integrity damage, malonaldialdehyde as a measure of lipid peroxidation and sperm-specific lactate dehydrogenase-C4 activity as an enzyme marker of sperm membrane leakage were determined. The monosialogangliosides (GM1) and trisialogangliosides (GT1b) were examined at a concentration of 100 μM, which was above their respective critical micellar concentrations. Exogenous gangliosides were not found to protect sperm membrane from lipid peroxidation. However, a freezing-/thawing-induced increase in Comet parameters was equally significantly prevented by the presence of both GM1 and GT1b (P < .05), indicating that the ceramide moiety, rather than the polar groups, is involved in the protective ability of gangliosides. The observed phenomena suggest that ganglioside micelles could modulate hydrophobic properties of the sperm membrane responsible for better tolerance to DNA fragmentation, thus protecting DNA integrity from cryopreservation-induced damage.
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