Intra‐ and interspecies comparison of sperm migration through polyacrylamide gel as an index of spermatozoal viability

Laura L. Hall, Mitchell Bush, Jogayle Howard, David E. Wildt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Sperm migration distance through a polyacrylamide gel mimicking cervical mucus was compared among seven species: dog, cat, goat, ram, clouded leopard, dorcas gazelle, and Eld's deer. Freshly collected spermatozoa were evaluated microscopically and then assayed for migration distance in gel‐filled capillary tubes in raw or diluted concentrations or after longevity declines in sperm motility and progressive status. Sperm count per milliliter of ejaculate and sperm percent motility ratings varied (P < 0.05) among selected species. Undiluted ejaculated spermatozoa from all species, except the clouded leopard, penetrated the polyacrylamide gel. Migration distance (mm) was different (P < 0.05) among species and not clearly correlated to concentration or motility factors. Although sperm concentrations in the dog and Eld's deer were similar, average migration distance of deer sperm was more than fourfold greater (P < 0.01) than that of dog sperm. The sperm motility rating for the gazelle was greater (P < 0.05) than that for the cat; however, penetration distance in the cat was more than twice as great (P < 0.05) as that in the gazelle. Species also varied in migration response after altering sperm concentration: Halving the sperm count of the dog, gazelle, and Eld's deer had no effect, but the same procedure decreased (P < 0.05) penetration distance in the goat and ram. No migration was observed in any species at a sperm concentration of 25 × 106 cells or less. Within species a decline in sperm percent motility‐progressive status ratings was correlated (P < 0.05) to a subsequent decrease in penetration distance. These results provide a comparative assessment of sperm cell migration through a synthetic cervical mucus and suggest that this test may be a useful adjunct in evaluating reproductive potential. However, the assay is specific in interpretive merit, as sperm penetration distance within a single batch of gel is markedly variant among species and in some species dependent on sperm concentration. This interspecies specificity in sperm migration through a homogeneous gel suggests intrinsic species variance in sperm cell‐cervical mucus interaction, suggesting that this assay could be valuable in future studies of the mechanism of sperm transport.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)329-337
Number of pages9
JournalZoo Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1985
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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