Evaluation of standard and development of new sperm function tests in selected primate species
Prag, Farren Chelsea
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Male infertility in humans has increased in the last few decades and could be as high as 40%, while up to 50% of these men have ''unexplained'' (idiopathic) infertility. Although newly developed molecular techniques have great value in detecting subtle causes of male infertility, more detailed sperm functional tests are required to identify compromised fertility, especially in a clinical set-up. Since ethical constraints often preclude the pursuit of many basic research questions in humans, non-human primates (NHPs) have been identified as key models in human-related studies. NHPs are often used in studies on male fertility/infertility, IVF or assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedures, male contraception and reproductive toxicology. However, comparing results of NHP and human studies require that techniques used for assessment must be objective, standardized and sensitive to recognize compromised sperm function. The aim of this study was to evaluate standard sperm functional tests and develop new functional tests using NHP sperm, specifically from vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus aethiops), chacma baboons (Papio ursinus) and rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta), for application in human and NHP studies and to ultimately develop a basic primate model. The sperm functions investigated included sperm motility, longevity, vitality, DNA integrity, acrosome reaction, and hyperactivation. The sperm functional tests evaluated were: CASA motility analysis; Sperm Longevity test; Eosin-Nigrosin and Hoechst and Propidium Iodide staining, as well as the use of WST-1 cytotoxicity assay for vitality; the TUNEL assay for DNA integrity; Acrosome Intactness Test; and induction of hyperactivation via stimulants. The validity of each test was investigated by inhibiting sperm function through the use of copper sulphate and cadmium chloride. All functional tests were successfully performed across all three species, except the TUNEL assay for DNA integrity, and was further used for validation testing. Validation testing proved that all sperm functional parameters were significantly affected by the highest concentrations of the chemicals (250 µg/ml CuSO4 and 500 µg/ml CdCl2) and if not significant, trends of reduction were seen. The tests employed were therefore sensitive to the inhibitory effect of the metals. By evaluating these established sperm functional tests we found that primates would serve as good models for research study. Furthermore, we optimized and modified techniques for sperm and functional analysis in these three primate species and this study will standardize protocols for use in future studies on male infertility. Additionally, comparing human and NHP sperm function can possibly reveal or explain the high infertility rates in humans.