Relationship of aquaporins 3 (AQP3), 7 (AQP7), and 11 (AQP11) with boar sperm resilience to withstand freeze-thawing procedures

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Cryopreservation is the most suitable method to preserve boar spermatozoa over long-term storage. However, freeze-thawing protocols inflict extensive damage to sperm cells, reducing their viability and compromising their fertilizing ability. In addition, high individual variability is known to exist between boar ejaculates, which may be classified as of good (GFE) or poor (PFE) freezability. While conventional spermiogram parameters fail to predict sperm cryotolerance in fresh spermatozoa, high levels of certain proteins, also known as freezability markers, have been found to be related to the sperm resilience to withstand freeze-thawing procedures. In this context, the hypothesis of this study was that aquaporins AQP3, AQP7, and AQP11 could be linked to boar sperm cryotolerance. Twenty-nine ejaculates were evaluated and subsequently classified as GFE or PFE based upon their sperm viability and motility at post-thawing. Fourteen ejaculates resulted to be GFE, whereas the other fifteen were found to be PFE. Relative abundances of AQP3, AQP7, and AQP11 and their localization patterns were evaluated in all fresh and frozen-thawed ejaculates through immunoblotting and immunocytochemistry. Prior to cryopreservation, relative amounts of AQP3 and AQP7 were found to be significantly (p < 0.05) higher in GFE than in PFE. In contrast, no significant differences (p > 0.05) between freezability groups were found for AQP11, despite GFE tending to present higher levels of this protein. The localization of AQP7, but not that of AQP3 or AQP11, was observed to be affected by cryopreservation procedures. In conclusion, these results suggest that AQP3 and AQP7 are related to boar sperm cryotolerance and may be used as freezability markers ​
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