Antioxidant effect of crocin on bovine sperm quality and in vitro fertilization

V Sapanidou, I Taitzoglou, Ι Tsakmakidis, I Kourtzelis, D Fletouris, A Theodoridis, I Zervos, M Tsantarliotou

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Reactive oxygen species (ROS) production above critical levels affects the genetic and functional integrity of spermatozoa by causing oxidative stress. Spermatozoa are susceptible to oxidative stress in terms of motility and fertilization capacity. Crocin (crocetin di-gentiobiose ester), a main constituent of Crocus Sativus L. (saffron), is known for its antioxidant activity by scavenging ROS, especially superoxide anion. The aim of the present study is to evaluate the effect of crocin on the quality characteristics of spermatozoa and fertilization rate. Frozen-thawed and washed spermatozoa from four different bulls were incubated with three different concentrations of crocin (0.5, 1, and 2 mM), for 120 and 240 minutes, in the presence of a negative control, and were evaluated in terms of motility, viability, acrosomal status, DNA fragmentation index, intracellular ROS, and lipid peroxidation. The most potent concentration of crocin (1 mM) was also added in the fertilization medium to test its impact on fertilization outcome. The results indicate that the incubation of spermatozoa with 1 mM of crocin resulted in a statistically significant lower production of ROS, lower lipid peroxidation and in better maintenance of motility, viability, and acrosomal integrity, with a very small number of fragmented cells, compared to the control and the other treated groups (P < 0.05). Crocin concentration of 1 mM resulted in a significant increase of blastocyst rate, compared to the control group (P < 0.01). These data indicate that crocin (1 mM) improves bovine sperm quality and its fertilization capability, directly and/or indirectly, by modulating ROS concentration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1273-82
Number of pages10
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2015

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


  • Animals
  • Antioxidants/pharmacology
  • Carotenoids/pharmacology
  • Cattle
  • Cryopreservation/veterinary
  • Fertilization in Vitro/drug effects
  • Lipid Peroxidation/drug effects
  • Male
  • Phosphatidylserines/analysis
  • Reactive Oxygen Species/metabolism
  • Semen Preservation/veterinary
  • Sperm Motility/drug effects
  • Spermatozoa/drug effects

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