Effects on Boar Sperm Quality of Dietary Supplementation with Omega-3 PUFAs Differ Between Breeds

23 November 2011, at 12:00am

Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) improved the sperm quality of Large White and Pietrain boars, according to researchers in Girona, Spain, but not for those of the Duroc breed.

The present study was undertaken to shed light on the relationship between boar sperm quality and dietary supplementation with omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which has been reported inconsistently in the literature, explained Marc Yeste of University of Girona, Spain and colleagues there in a paper published recently in the journal, Theriogenology.

With this aim, these effects were evaluated and compared among three different porcine breeds: Duroc, Large White and Pietrain. Animals were randomly separated into two groups and fed either with a control diet or with a diet supplemented with omega-3. The product and inclusion rate are not specified in the abstract.

Sperm quality of these boar (ejaculate volume, sperm concentration, sperm viability, acrosome and mitochondrial sheath integrity, sperm motility, sperm morphology, and osmotic resistance of spermatozoa) was assessed every week for a 26-week period.

Supplementing the boar's diet with omega-3 did not affect ejaculate volume, sperm concentration, sperm motility, sperm viability or acrosome and mitochondrial sheath integrity.

However, the supplemented diet positively affected both sperm morphology in Large White and Pietrain breeds and the osmotic resistance of Pietrain spermatozoa. No effects were seen for the same sperm parameters in Duroc breed.

These breed differences in boar fed with the supplemented diet could explain the contradictions in literature and might be related with differences in the composition of plasma membrane among breeds reported by other authors, according to Yeste and his colleagues.

Because no harmful effects were observed in the three evaluated breeds but positive effects in Large White and Pietrain boar, the Girona researchers concluded that omega-3 fatty acids may be added to boar's diet at the levels used in this study to improve their sperm quality. They added that more research is, however, needed to determine how these fatty acids differently affect the morphology and the osmotic resistance of the spermatozoa in these breeds.


Yeste M., X. Barrera, D. Coll and S. Bonet. 2011. The effects on boar sperm quality of dietary supplementation with omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids differ among porcine breeds. Theriogenology. 76(1): 184-196. doi:10.1016/j.theriogenology.2011.01.032

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November 2011
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