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Pharmacological Activity of Honeybush (Cyclopia intermedia) in Boar Spermatozoa during Semen Storage and under Oxidative Stress

Department of Veterinary Sciences, Faculty of Agrobiology, Food and Natural Resources, Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, Kamýcká 129, 165 00 Praha 6-Suchdol, Czech Republic
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Animals 2020, 10(3), 463; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10030463
Received: 12 December 2019 / Revised: 27 February 2020 / Accepted: 6 March 2020 / Published: 10 March 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Reproduction)
Nowadays, pig breeding is mostly conducted by artificial insemination using diluted semen stored for 1 to 5 days. During semen handling and storage, sperm quality usually declines, mainly because of oxidative stress and bacterial contamination. As cheap and natural sources of antioxidants, medicinal plants have become an alternative to the most common additives used in semen extenders. In this regard, several indigenous plants from Southern Africa have shown pharmacological activity in different animal cell types, although their effects on sperm cells have not been explored extensively. In the present study, we tested the effects of honeybush (Cyclopia intermedia) aqueous extract as a preservative of boar semen during 5 days of storage and under induced oxidative stress. Overall, this plant extract enhanced several sperm quality parameters and did not show any toxic effects. Supplementation with honeybush extract was able to improve the preservative properties of a long-term semen extender, thus confirming the beneficial use of plant extracts as natural additives for boar sperm.
In recent decades, an increasing number of ethnopharmacological studies have been dedicated to medicinal plants from South African fynbos. Among these plants, honeybush (Cyclopia spp.) has become a popular tea, mainly due to its healthy properties and caffeine-free status. The antioxidant, antimutagenic, and antimicrobial properties of this plant have been reported in several cell types, but its effects on reproductive function are still unknown. Here, we assessed the effects of honeybush (Cyclopia intermedia) on boar sperm parameters under induced oxidative stress (Fe2+/ascorbate) and during five days of semen storage at 17 °C without oxidative stress. In both experiments, four concentrations (200, 50, 12.5, and 3.125 µg/mL) of fermented honeybush were tested. Our results show that honeybush enhances sperm parameters, and no toxic effects were observed at any of the tested extract concentrations. Interestingly, honeybush (12.5 µg/mL) improved the sperm motility and kinetic parameters, preserved the plasma membrane integrity, and reduced the lipid peroxidation in the samples exposed to Fe2+/ascorbate (p < 0.05). In the stored samples, positive effects of honeybush on sperm parameters (motility, kinetics, acrosome, and mitochondria) were observed from 48 h until 120 h of semen storage (p < 0.05). Our results clearly show the protective effects of honeybush on sperm samples, thus promoting its use as a natural source of antioxidants for boar semen. View Full-Text
Keywords: Cyclopia intermedia; lipid peroxidation; oxidative stress; semen storage; sperm function Cyclopia intermedia; lipid peroxidation; oxidative stress; semen storage; sperm function
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Ros-Santaella, J.L.; Kadlec, M.; Pintus, E. Pharmacological Activity of Honeybush (Cyclopia intermedia) in Boar Spermatozoa during Semen Storage and under Oxidative Stress. Animals 2020, 10, 463.

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