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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Stoneville, Mississippi » Warmwater Aquaculture Research Unit » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #318327

Research Project: Biophotonics – Technology Development in Animal Research and Production Systems

Location: Warmwater Aquaculture Research Unit

Title: Lectin-functionalized magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles for reproductive improvement

Author
item Feugang, J - Mississippi State University
item Liao, S - Mississippi State University
item Crenshaw, M - Mississippi State University
item Clemente, H - Clemente Associates
item Willard, S - Mississippi State University
item Ryan, P - Mississippi State University

Submitted to: Journal of Fertilization:In Vitro
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/6/2015
Publication Date: 3/13/2015
Citation: Feugang, J.M., Liao, S.F., Crenshaw, M.A., Clemente, H., Willard, S.T., Ryan, P.L. 2015. Lectin-functionalized magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles for reproductive improvement. Journal of Fertilization:In Vitro. 3(2).

Interpretive Summary: Semen ejaculates contain variable populations of spermatozoa that significantly influence the fertility outcomes of semen doses, used for artificial inseminations (AI). The routine evaluation parameters of semen quality are not fully reliable to predict the sire fertility. Here we took advantage of the recent progress in nanotechnology by combining this technology to reproduction. Nanotechnology refers to the study of particles of less than 100 nanometers of size, which allowed us to design specific iron oxide-based nanoparticles as new tools for high-throughput improvement of semen quality. This approach uses magnetic properties to attract spermatozoa bound to specifically designed-magnetic nanoparticles while the non-bound “viable” sperm are eluted and used for inseminations. Eluted semen had greater sperm motility characteristics and induced pregnancy rates. These findings indicated that the proposed process of “nanopurification” had no visible toxicity on sows and born piglets.

Technical Abstract: Background: Semen ejaculates contain heterogeneous sperm populations that can jeopardize male fertility. Recent development of nanotechnology in physiological systems may have applications in reproductive biology. Here, we used magnetic nanoparticles as a novel strategy for sperm purification to improve semen fertility. Methods: Boar semen was obtained in artificial insemination doses from a local boar stud. Doses were mixed with or without magnetic nanoparticles designed to target and deplete moribund and poor performing spermatozoa under an electromagnetic field. Sperm motility characteristics were assessed prior to insemination of open gilts with control (n=3 gilts) and nanopurified (n=4 gilts) semen. Pregnancies were verified 30 days post-insemination. Litter sizes and post-natal development of piglets were respectively evaluated at parturition and weekly until weaning. Results: Nanopurification significantly improved sperm motility. Two gilts in the control group were confirmed non-pregnant, but the remainder maintained pregnancies through to parturition (33% vs. 100%, control and nanopurified groups, respectively). At parturition, the number of piglets born to the control gilt was not significantly different from the average of the nanopurified group (17 ± 0.0 vs. 15 ± 2, respectively; P>0.05); however, in the latter group 78% of piglets remained alive compared to 76% of the control. Birth weight of control piglets was lower (1.18 ± 0.22 kg) than those in the nanopurified group (1.41 ± 0.14 kg). Both groups of piglets showed linear and parallel growth rates with respective weight gains of 4.4x and 4.1x from birth to weaning. Interestingly, piglets produced in the nanopurified group comprised of 55% males compared to 38% in the control group. Conclusions: Magnetic nanoparticles used in this preliminary study exhibited no toxic effects on sperm fertilization capacity and piglet viability. Beneficial effects may be seen in semen fertility, with possible use for gender selection. Further investigations on a large scale are needed to confirm the current findings, with potential application in clinical practice.