Drying and temperature induced conformational changes of nucleic acids and stallion sperm chromatin in trehalose preservation formulations
Even though dried sperm is not viable, it can be used for fertilization as long as its chromatin remains intact. In this study, we investigated drying- and temperature-induced conformational changes of nucleic acids and stallion sperm chromatin. Sperm was diluted in preservation formulations with and without sugar/albumin and subjected to convective drying at elevated temperatures on glass substrates. Accumulation of reactive oxygen species was studied during storage at different temperatures, and the sperm chromatin structure assay was used to assess DNA damage. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy was used to identify dehydration and storage induced conformational changes in isolated DNA and sperm chromatin. Furthermore, hydrogen bonding in the preservation solutions associated with storage stability were investigated. Reactive oxygen species and DNA damage in dried sperm samples were found to accumulate with increasing storage temperature and storage duration. Non-reducing disaccharides (i.e., trehalose, sucrose) and albumin counteracted oxidative stress and preserved sperm chromatin during dried storage, whereas glucose increased DNA damage during storage. When sperm was dried in the presence of trehalose and albumin, no spectral changes were detected during storage at refrigeration temperatures, whereas under accelerated aging conditions, i.e., storage at 37 °C, spectral changes were detected indicating alterations in sperm chromatin structure.