PloS one

Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) extract enhances boar sperm velocity up to 96 hours of semen storage.

PMID 28837611


Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) is a native shrub from South African fynbos and has become very popular in the last decades for its antioxidant and medicinal attributes. Several studies have shown its beneficial properties in numerous cell lines, but to date, the in vitro effects of rooibos extract on sperm cells are still unknown. In this study, boar semen was supplemented with four concentrations both of fermented and unfermented rooibos extracts during 96 h of liquid storage at 17°C. The effects of rooibos extracts on sperm velocity, membrane integrity, and acrosomal status were evaluated at 2 h, 48 h, and 96 h of semen storage. Overall our results indicate that rooibos extract enhances sperm velocity, protects the acrosome structure, and tends to preserve the membrane integrity during semen storage. Although the unfermented rooibos showed higher total polyphenol content and total antioxidant capacity than the fermented one, the latter had better effects on sperm velocity leading to, for instance, an increase of 30% in the rectilinear velocity (VSL) at 48 h compared to the control group. Taking into account the different storage times, we established a suitable range of extracts concentrations to be used in boar semen. The rooibos extract ought to be considered as a powerful and natural source of antioxidants for the preservation of boar semen.

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