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Meikle, Lily; Brennan, Patricia; Reese, Sven ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4605-9791 and Kölle, Sabine (31. March 2022): Sperm localised in the isthmus of the alpacafemale genital tract directly after mating. Meeting of the 2021 UCD School of Medicine Summer Student Research Awards (SSRA 2021), Dublin, 6. Oktober 2021.

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The purpose of this study was to determine the location of deposition of sperm and their interactions within the genital tract of the female alpaca, as well as the identification of morphological and functional features to better understand their high fertility rates. For this purpose, samples of female alpacas (n=4, ethical approval: AREC-E-20-13-Koelle) 5 mins-24 hrs after mating were obtained from the whole genital tract (n= 32) and stained with PAS, Alcian blue (pH 2.5), Masson’s Trichrome and H&E. Quantitative analysis was performed using ImageJ software. Our results showed that the majority of sperm was found in the isthmus 5 mins after mating with 85% of the sperm being located in one oviduct. Most sperm were bound to the isthmic epithelium, with 10% found free in the lumen. 24 hrs after mating very few sperm were left. While there were high amounts of secretions in the whole genital tract before mating, se- cretory activity was strongly diminished after mating. Melanin was pres- ent in the uterine cells of all mated animals. Numerous lipid droplets were found in the epithelium of cervix and ampulla independently of mating. Our results imply that that during mating, sperm are directly deposited near the uterotubal junction and initiate rapid intercellular communica- tion. Although mating is associated with lesions and bleeding in the female genital tract, alpacas are highly fertile. Thus, the investigation of the underlying mechanisms might contribute to novel concepts for treat- ment of infertility in both humans and animals.

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