Effectiveness of assisted reproductive technology media containing non-animal protein sources for in vitro processing of human spermatozoa
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Millions of couples in the United States experience infertility and choose to undergo assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedures. These ART techniques require specialized media to culture the gamete cells. In many infertility cases, male factor infertility is a root cause, which initiated our laboratory’s interest in improving the andrology processing of semen in vitro by altering sperm cell culture media. ART laboratories currently utilize media such as Ham’s F‐10 (HF‐10) to process and culture human spermatozoa. These media contain animal serum albumins which carry the risk of transmitting blood borne pathogens. Thus, U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidance policies discourage the use of biological products that contain human or other animal protein sources. Therefore, this study investigates replacing the current animal derived protein source in traditional HF‐10 with plant protein sources. During ART processing, spermatozoa also generate reactive oxygen species (ROS) through aerobic respiration. Oxidative stress occurs when ROS generate peroxidation of unsaturated fatty acids in the sperm plasma membrane. Sperm are more susceptible to oxidative damage in vitro; however, HF‐10 does not typically include antioxidants to counter ROS and lipid peroxidation. Therefore, this study also examines the possible antioxidant benefits that the plant material may provide in addition to an alternative protein source. The endpoints of this study assess how using plant protein sources affects sperm quality when compared to the current standard by measuring motility parameters, acrosomal exocytosis, and lipid peroxidation of human spermatozoa in vitro.