Effect of method of euthanasia on sperm motility of mature Sprague-Dawley rats

Shannon A. Stutler, Eric W. Johnson, Kenneth R. Still, David J. Schaeffer, Rex A. Hess, Darryl P. Arfsten

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Euthanasia is one of the most commonly performed procedures in laboratory animal settings. The method of euthanasia may affect experimental results in studies using animals and must be compatible with research objectives including subsequent tissue analyses. Our present study was performed to evaluate the effects of 7 euthanasia methods on sperm motility in mature rats. Rats were euthanized using CO2, 2 commercially available euthanasia solutions (Beuthanasia-D and Sleepaway), and 4 volatile anesthetics (enflurane, halothane, isoflurane, and sevoflurane). Rats euthanized by rapid decapitation alone served as negative controls, and α-chlorohydrin-treated rats euthanized by rapid decapitation were positive controls for sperm impairment. For 5 of these methods, we also measured time to ataxia, recumbency, respiratory arrest, and no auscultable heartbeat. Immediately after euthanasia of each rat, distal caudal epididymides were removed; 1 was processed for automated sperm motility analysis, and the other was frozen for subsequent concentration analysis. Time to all measured parameters was less for volatile anesthetics than for Beuthanasia-D. Times to last respiration and no heartbeat were less for halothane and isoflurane than for enflurane and sevoflurane. Percentage motile sperm did not differ significantly between methods. Percentage progressively motile sperm did not vary significantly between methods except for Beuthanasia-D, for which it was significantly less than the negative control value. Specific sperm motion parameters for each euthanasia method except CO2 and Sleepaway varied significantly from the negative control. Our results indicate that the method of euthanasia is an important consideration when rat sperm motility parameters must be evaluated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-20
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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