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Plasma IGF-I, INSL3, testosterone, inhibin concentrations and scrotal circumferences surrounding puberty in Japanese Black beef bulls with normal and abnormal semen

Weerakoon, W.W.P.N., Sakase, M., Kawate, N., Hannan, M.A., Kohama, N., Tamada, H.
Theriogenology 2018 v.114 pp. 54-62
Wagyu, beef bulls, blood, blood sampling, inhibin, insulin-like growth factor I, puberty, semen, sperm motility, spermatozoa, testes, testosterone
The relationships between semen abnormalities and peripheral concentrations of testicular and metabolic hormones in beef bulls are unclear. Here we compared plasma insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I), insulin-like peptide 3 (INSL3), testosterone, inhibin concentrations, and scrotal circumferences surrounding puberty in Japanese Black beef bulls (n = 66) with normal or abnormal semen. We collected blood samples and measured scrotal circumferences monthly from 4 to 24 months of age. Semen was collected weekly from 12 months until at least 18 months of age. Fresh semen was evaluated for semen volume, sperm motility, concentrations, and morphological defects. The normal fresh semen was frozen by a standard method and examined for post-thaw sperm motility and fertility. Bulls were classified as having either normal post-thaw semen (n = 45) or abnormal semen (n = 21, when at least one of the above test items was abnormal for 6 months). Abnormal semen was classified into abnormal fresh or low-fertility post-thaw which evaluated for rates of transferable embryos. The abnormal fresh was categorized as having sperm morphological defects, low motility, and morphological defects plus low motility. Scrotal circumferences were smaller for the abnormal-semen group vs. the normal-semen group at 20 and 24 months (p < 0.05). Plasma IGF-I, INSL3, and inhibin concentrations in the abnormal-semen group were lower than those of the normal-semen group (p < 0.05) surrounding puberty (4–6, 8, 18–22, and 24 months for IGF-I; 6, 9, 11–14, 17, and 20–21 months for INSL3; 5, 8–13, 16, 17, 19, and 20 months for inhibin). The plasma testosterone concentrations were lower in the abnormal-semen bulls vs. normal-semen bulls only at 22 months (p < 0.05). Analyses of the classified abnormal semen showed lower plasma INSL3 concentrations for morphological defects plus low motility in fresh semen (p < 0.05) and lower IGF-I and inhibin concentrations for low-fertility post-thaw semen (p < 0.05) compared to the normal semen. Our results suggest that reduced secretions of IGF-I, INSL3, and inhibin surrounding puberty may be associated with semen aberration in beef bulls. Notably, the combined sperm abnormality of morphological defects and low motility in fresh semen could involve lowered INSL3, whereas the low-fertility post-thaw semen might be related to decreases of IGF-I and/or inhibin. Pre-puberty blood IGF-I, INSL3 and inhibin concentrations could be used as indicators to predict aberrant semen in beef bulls.