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Ergot Alkaloid Effects on Bovine Sperm Motility In Vitro

DOI: 10.4236/arsci.2019.71002, PP. 7-15

Keywords: CASA, Bull Spermatozoa, Toxins

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Cattle in some parts of the world graze pastures that consist of tall fescue that may contain ergot alkaloid contamination. Those ergot alkaloids are associated with reduced reproductive rates in cattle. Our objective was to determine if ergot alkaloids [dihydroergotamine (DHET), ergonovine (EN), and ergotamine (ET)] directly affect bovine sperm characteristics. Spermatozoa were collected from mature Angus (n = 2) and Balancer (n = 4) bulls. Within bull, treatments were structured as a 3 × 5 factorial with three alkaloids (DHET, EN, and ET) and five concentrations of each alkaloid (0, 33, 66, 100, or 200 μM). Spermatozoa (25 × 106) were incubated (39?C) in 1 mL of modified sperm medium. Sperm motility characteristics were evaluated using CASA (Hamiliton Thorne IVOS, Beverly, MA) at 0, 3, and 6 h after initial alkaloid exposure. Initial sperm motility was (69% ± 1.1%) and declined (P = 0.01) to (35% ± 2.6%) at 6 h. Sperm motility decreased (P < 0.05) with increasing concentrations of DHET and ET, but not EN. As concentration of ET or DHET increased all CASA sperm characteristics were altered. The interaction of alkaloid concentration and incubation length affected sperm velocity and head size; exposure to 200 μM of ET or DHET for six hours decreased (P < 0.05) both characteristics. Our results demonstrate that ergot alkaloids (ET and DHET) can directly alter bovine sperm motility and morphology, which adds to our understanding of how ergot alkaloids may hinder cattle reproductive rates.


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