Evaluation of DNA fragmentation in llama (Lama glama) sperm using the sperm chromatin dispersion test.
ABSTRACT The integrity of sperm chromatin is now viewed as an important factor in male fertility and in early embryonic development. The objectives of this study were: (1) adapt the simple and inexpensive sperm chromatin dispersion (SCD) test to evaluate DNA fragmentation in llama sperm and establish the halo patterns observed in this species, (2) determine an effective and reliable positive control for this technique and (3) evaluate correlation between the SCD test and the toluidine blue (TB) stain. To adapt the SCD test, three different mercaptoethanol (ME) concentrations were assayed (2.5%, 5% and 10% ME). To determine an effective positive control, three treatments (incubation at 100 °C for 30 min, incubation with 0.3 M NaOH for 30 min at room temperature and exposure to UV light for 2h) were assayed. The concentration selected to use in the SCD test was 5% ME, because it produced the largest halo while still conserving the structure of the core. Four DNA dispersion patterns were clearly observed: (I) nuclei with large DNA dispersion halos; (II) nuclei with medium halos; (III) nuclei with very small halos and (IV) nuclei with no halo. All treatments used as positive controls were effective in producing DNA fragmentation. A high correlation (r=0.84, P=0.03) was observed between spermatozoa without halos and TB positive cells. To conclude, SCD patterns in llama sperm have been established as well as a repeatable positive control for the assay. The SCD test and TB stain are simple and inexpensive techniques that can be used to evaluate DNA damage in llama sperm.