Microgravity does not affect frozen human semen
A group of researchers of Dexeus Mujer, in collaboration with engineers from the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya · BarcelonaTech (UPC), has carried out a study in order to investigate whether exposure to microgravity conditions similar to those that occur in outer space can affect the mobility and vitality of various samples of frozen sperm, by executing short-duration parabolic flights.
To carry out the study, the researchers obtained 10 semen samples from 10 healthy volunteers. Each of them was divided into two fractions; one to perform the study in microgravity conditions and a control one. All of them were frozen in liquid nitrogen at -196 ° C and stored until the day of the experiment. The fractions dedicated to the experiment were introduced in a specific tank for air transport that was placed inside a plane (CAP10B) of Aeroclub Barcelona-Sabadell specialised in the execution of aerobatic flights for scientific studies. The plane made 20 parabolas to subject the samples to microgravity conditions for a short period of time (8 seconds in each parabola) using the freefall technique. After the execution of these manoeuvres, the sperm was thawed and analysed to check if the temporary exposure to the microgravity conditions to which they had been subjected had had some effect on their functionality and characteristics, and they were compared with the respective control fractions of each donor, which were thawed and analysed in parallel. The study included the analysis of a wide range of parameters that are usually evaluated in fertility tests: concentration, mobility, vitality, morphology, apoptosis and fragmentation of sperm DNA.
The results revealed that there were no significant differences in any of these parameters between the fractions subjected to microgravity and those that were maintained under conditions of gravity.
M. Boada1, A. Perez -Poch2, M. Ballester1, S. García-Monclús1, D.V. González3, I. Rodríguez4, P.N. Barri1, A. Veiga1.
1 Dexeus Mujer, Department of Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Reproduction, Barcelona, Spain.
2 Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, UPC Barcelona Tech, Barcelona, Spain.
3 Aeroclub Barcelona-Sabadell, Aerobatic parabolic flights, Sabadell, Spain.
4 Dexeus Mujer, Unit of Biostatistics, Barcelona, Spain.