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To date, the laboratory mouse is the only mammal in which freeze-dried spermatozoa have been shown to support full-term development after microinjection into oocytes. Because spermatozoa in mice, unlike in most other mammals, do not contribute centrosomes to zygotes, it is still unknown whether freeze-dried spermatozoa in other mammals are fertile. Rabbit sperm was selected as a model because of its similarity to human sperm (considering the centrosome inheritance pattern). Freeze- drying induces rabbit spermatozoa to undergo dramatic changes, such as immobilization, membrane breaking, and tail fragmentation. Even when considered to be "dead" in the conventional sense, rabbit spermatozoa freeze-dried and stored at ambient temperature for more than 2 yr still have capability comparable to that of fresh spermatozoa to support preimplantation development after injection into oocytes followed by activation. A rabbit kit derived from a freeze-dried spermatozoon was born after transferring 230 sperm-injected oocytes into eight recipients. The results suggest that freeze-drying could be applied to preserve the spermatozoa from most other species, including human. The present study also raises the question of whether rabbit sperm centrosomes survive freeze-drying or are not essential for embryonic development.

Original publication




Journal article


Biol Reprod

Publication Date





1776 - 1781


Animals, Embryo Transfer, Embryonic Development, Female, Freeze Drying, Humans, Male, Mice, Microscopy, Confocal, Microscopy, Electron, Scanning, Models, Animal, Oocytes, Pregnancy, Rabbits, Semen Preservation, Sperm Injections, Intracytoplasmic, Spermatozoa