Revisiting summer infertility in the pig: could heat stress-induced sperm DNA damage negatively affect early embryo development?

Peña, Santiago T., Gummow, Bruce, Parker, Anthony, and Paris, Damien B.B.P. (2017) Revisiting summer infertility in the pig: could heat stress-induced sperm DNA damage negatively affect early embryo development? Animal Production Science, 57 (10). pp. 1975-1983.

PDF (Published Version) - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (273kB) | Preview
View at Publisher Website:


Temperature is a crucial factor in mammalian spermatogenesis. The scrotum, pampiniform plexus, and cremaster and dartos muscles in mammals are specific adaptations to ensure sperm production in a regulated environment 4-6°C below internal body temperature. However, the limited endogenous antioxidant systems inherent in mammalian spermatozoa compounded by the loss of cytosolic repair mechanisms during spermatogenesis, make the DNA in these cells particularly vulnerable to oxidative damage. Boar sperm is likely to be more susceptible to the effects of heat stress and thus oxidative damage due to the relatively high unsaturated fatty acids in the plasma membrane, low antioxidant capacity in boar seminal plasma, and the boar’s non-pendulous scrotum. Heat stress has a significant negative impact on reproductive performance in piggeries, which manifests as summer infertility and results in productivity losses that amount to millions of dollars. This problem is particularly prevalent in tropical and subtropical regions where ambient temperatures rise beyond the animal’s zone of thermal comfort. Based on preliminary studies in the pig and other species, this article discusses whether heat stress could induce sufficient DNA damage in boar sperm to significantly contribute to the high rates of embryo loss and pregnancy failure observed in the sow during summer infertility. Heat stress-induced damage to sperm DNA can lead to disrupted expression of key developmental genes essential for the differentiation of early cell lineages, such as the trophectoderm, and can distort the timely formation of the blastocyst; resulting in a failure of implantation and ultimately pregnancy loss. Confirming such a link would prompt greater emphasis on boar management and strategies to mitigate summer infertility during periods of heat stress.

Item ID: 48348
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1836-5787
Keywords: boar; DNA fragmentation; embryo loss; seasonal infertility; spermatozoa; Sus scrofa domestica; temperature
Additional Information:

© CSIRO 2017 Open Access CC BY-NC-ND

Funders: James Cook University (JCU), Australian Awards Scholarship
Projects and Grants: JCU Development Grant
Date Deposited: 10 Apr 2017 04:54
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3101 Biochemistry and cell biology > 310102 Cell development, proliferation and death @ 30%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3105 Genetics > 310503 Developmental genetics (incl. sex determination) @ 20%
30 AGRICULTURAL, VETERINARY AND FOOD SCIENCES > 3003 Animal production > 300305 Animal reproduction and breeding @ 50%
SEO Codes: 83 ANIMAL PRODUCTION AND ANIMAL PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 8303 Livestock Raising > 830308 Pigs @ 50%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970107 Expanding Knowledge in the Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences @ 25%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960310 Global Effects of Climate Change and Variability (excl. Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica and the South Pacific) @ 25%
Downloads: Total: 607
Last 12 Months: 96
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page