Protective effect of crocetin on bovine spermatozoa against oxidative stress during in vitro fertilization

V Sapanidou, I Taitzoglou, I Tsakmakidis, I Kourtzelis, D Fletouris, A Theodoridis, S Lavrentiadou, M Tsantarliotou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Oxidative stress is one of the major factors that contribute to poor semen quality and low rates of in vitro fertilization. Crocetin, a main constituent of saffron (Crocus sativus L.) possesses potent antioxidant activity, by scavenging reactive oxygen species (ROS) and/or enhancing the activity of intracellular antioxidant enzymes. The aim of this study was to investigate, for the first time, the effect of crocetin on the quality characteristics of bull spermatozoa and fertilization rate. For this reason, frozen/thawed bovine spermatozoa were incubated with crocetin (1, 2.5, and 5 μm), for 120 or 240 min, in the presence of a negative control, and evaluated in terms of motility, viability, acrosomal status, DNA fragmentation index, intracellular ROS, and lipid peroxidation. In order to evaluate the impact of crocetin on cleavage and blastocyst rate, the compound was added in the IVF medium at the previously identified optimal concentration (2.5 μm). The results indicate that incubation of spermatozoa with 2.5 μm of crocetin resulted in a statistically significant lower production of superoxide anion and hydrogen peroxide, lower lipid peroxidation, and in better maintenance of motility parameters, viability, and acrosomal integrity, with a very small number of cells with DNA fragmentation, compared to the other groups (p < 0.05). The presence of crocetin (2.5 μm) in the fertilization medium also resulted in a significant increase in acrosome-reacted spermatozoa and blastocyst production, compared to the control group (p < 0.01). These data indicate that crocetin (2.5 μm) positively affects bovine sperm quality characteristics during a 240-min incubation and improves its fertilizing ability, directly and/or indirectly, by regulating ROS concentration and lipid peroxidation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1138-1149
Number of pages12
Issue number6
Early online date30 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - 27 Oct 2016

Bibliographical note

© 2016 American Society of Andrology and European Academy of Andrology.


  • Animals
  • Antioxidants/pharmacology
  • Carotenoids/pharmacology
  • Cattle
  • Fertilization/drug effects
  • Fertilization in Vitro/methods
  • Male
  • Oxidative Stress/drug effects
  • Semen Analysis/veterinary
  • Semen Preservation/methods
  • Sperm Motility/drug effects
  • Spermatozoa/drug effects

Cite this