Abstract Title:

Effects of flaxseed dietary supplementation on sperm quality and on lipid composition of sperm subfractions and prostatic granules in rabbit.

Abstract Source:

Theriogenology. 2009 Dec 22. Epub 2009 Dec 22. PMID: 20034660

Abstract Author(s):

E Mourvaki, R Cardinali, A Dal Bosco, L Corazzi, C Castellini

Article Affiliation:

Department of Applied Biology, Section of Animal Science, University of Perugia, Perugia, Italy.


Lipids are the main structural/functional components of the sperm, and their composition may undergo a series of modifications in relation to either physiologic events (capacitation and acrosome reaction) and/or diet. The goals of the current study were (1) to investigate whether a flaxseed (FS) dietary supplementation could affect the lipid and fatty acid profile of sperm subfractions and of prostatic granules (PGs) and (2) to evaluate the effects of dietary FS on rabbit buck semen quality. Accordingly, 20 adult New Zealand White rabbits were fed ad libitum a control diet (CO) or a diet supplemented with 5% extruded FS. Integration of diet with FS, as a consequence of the linolenic acid (C18:3n-3; LNA; 56%), increased the dietary n-3/n-6 ratio and resulted in a substantial rearrangement of sperm fatty acid composition at the subcellular level, mainly of polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA)n-3 (8.3% vs. 14.3%, P<0.05). The lipid and fatty acid profiles of sperm tail membrane were the most affected, undergoing the following significant changes: (1) a reduction by half of linoleic acid (C18:2n-6; LA) and docosapentaenoic acid (22:5n-6; DPA), and a reduction of cholesterol (-70%); (2) a concomitant increase of LNA (+65%), docosahexaenoic acid (22:6n-3; DHA; +83%), and of oleic acid (C18:1n-9, +61%). As a consequence, the sperm of FS-fed rabbits had a twice higher n-3/n-6 ratio and phospholipid/cholesterol ratio compared with the control sperm. These changes might have been on the basis of the higher responsiveness to hypo-osmotic solution and, hence, the higher sperm track speed observed for the FS group. Also, the membrane integrity and viability of the LNA-enriched sperm were both improved. On the other hand, the presence of lignans in FS might have accounted for the reduction of sperm cholesterol in the semen of FS-treated rabbits. The responsiveness of sperm to acrosome reaction was not affected by the dietary treatment probably due to supranutritional level of vitamin E and to the higher number of PGs, which are known to play a key role in sperm capacitation. In conclusion, our data showed for the first time that the integration of FS into the rabbit diet may improve sperm quality by modifying the sperm lipid composition and that the sperm subfractions and the PGs respond differently to the FS-induced lipid manipulation.

Study Type : Animal Study

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