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Integration of sperm sexing technology into the ART toolbox.

  • Maxwell, W M C1
  • Evans, G
  • Hollinshead, F K
  • Bathgate, R
  • De Graaf, S P
  • Eriksson, B M
  • Gillan, L
  • Morton, K M
  • O'Brien, J K
  • 1 Centre for Advanced Technologies in Animal Genetics and Reproduction, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia. [email protected] , (Australia)
Published Article
Animal Reproduction Science
Publication Date
Jul 01, 2004
PMID: 15271445


Sex-sorting of mammalian spermatozoa has applications for genetic improvement of farm animals, in humans for the control of sex-linked disease, and in wildlife as a captive management strategy and for the re-population of endangered species. Considerable research has been undertaken worldwide on the Beltsville sperm sexing technology, the only effective method for pre-selection of sex of offspring. The combination of this method with assisted reproductive technologies has resulted in the birth of offspring in a wide range of animals, including cattle, the only livestock species in which sperm sexing is used commercially. Major improvements in the efficiency of sorting, in particular the development of high speed sorting (15 million X and Y spermatozoa per hour) have led to the production of offspring using conventional and low dose AI and the successful cryopreservation of sorted spermatozoa in cattle, sheep, horses and elk. A major limitation remains the short viable lifespan of sorted spermatozoa in the female genital tract, in most species necessitating sperm deposition deep in the uterus, and close to the expected time of ovulation, for acceptable fertility after in vivo insemination. Special deep uterine insemination technology has been employed to produce offspring in pigs and horses using low sperm doses. Considerable attention has been paid to reduction of the damage and capacitation-like changes to spermatozoa that result from flow cytometric sorting and from freezing and thawing. However, high-purity sorting of liquid-stored or frozen-thawed spermatozoa for immediate use, or re-cryopreservation for later use, does not reduce its fertilizing capacity in vitro, allowing its combination with in vitro fertilization or juvenile in vitro embryo transfer to produce blastocysts, and offspring in sheep and cattle after embryo transfer. Further research into sorting and preservation methods that incorporate strategies to prevent destabilization of sperm membranes may improve the fertilizing lifespan of flow cytometrically sorted spermatozoa. With continued improvement in sorting instrumentation and biological handling, sorting efficiency should reach a point where commercially acceptable pregnancy rates may be achieved in a number of species after conventional or deep uterine insemination.

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