Cryotolerance of equine spermatozoa correlates with specific fatty acid pattern: A pilot study

Sergio Oddi, Augusto Carluccio, Francesca Ciaramellano, Marcello Mascini, Roberta Bucci, Mauro Maccarrone, Domenico Robbe, Enrico Dainese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sperm cryopreservation represents a powerful tool for horse breeding. To improve the efficiency of artificial insemination in the horse using cryopreserved spermatozoa, an adequate understanding of the underlying biophysical properties that affect sperm cryosurvival needs to be reached yet. In this pilot study, we described isolation and analysis of the main fatty acids from sperms of stallions classified as good and poor freezers (7 GF and 5 PF, according to sperm motility and viability, before and after cryopreservation). Fatty acid profiles were only assessed in pre-thaw sperms. Eight main fatty acids were identified, using gas chromatography, and their contents were expressed as percentage of the total lipid content. We found that lauric, myristic and oleic acid (C12:0, C14:0 and C18:1n9c) turned out to be about 2-fold more abundant in the sperm cells of the GFs compared with PFs. Moreover, we described for the first time the presence of a very high amount of a trans geometrical isomer of linoleic acid, linolelaidic acid (C18:2n6t), in pre-thaw PF spermatozoa. Notably, we found in fresh sperms of PF stallions a ratio of unsaturated fatty acids to saturated fatty acids which was twice that of those of GF group, suggesting a positive effect of a high saturated-to-unsaturated fatty acid ratio for the “freezability” of equine spermatozoa. Finally, principal component analysis (PCA) confirmed the relationships between specific fatty acids and cryotolerance of equine spermatozoa, also providing a graphical classification and additional information about the dominant variables governing the classification process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)88-94
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - Sep 15 2021


  • Fatty acids
  • Horse
  • Principal components analysis
  • Sperm cryotolerance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Small Animals
  • Food Animals
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Equine


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