An Evaluation of Boar Spermatozoa as a Biosensor for the Detection of Sublethal and Lethal Toxicity

Emmanuelle Castagnoli, Johanna Salo, Matti S. Toivonen, Tamás Marik, Raimo Mikkola, László Kredics, Alejandro Vicente-Carrillo, Szabolcs Nagy, Markus T. Andersson, M. A. Andersson, Jarek Kurnitski, Heidi Salonen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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A novel, objective, and rapid computed motility inhibition (CMI) assay was developed to identify and assess sublethal injury in toxin-exposed boar spermatozoa and compared with a subjective visual motility inhibition (VMI) assay. The CMI values were calculated from digital micrographic videos using a custom MATLAB® script by contrasting the motility index values of each experiment with those of the background and control experiments. Following a comparison of the CMI and VMI assays results, it was determined that their agreement depended on the shape of the dose-response curve. Toxins that exhibited a steep slope were indicative of good agreement between the assays. Those depicted by a gentle decline in the slope of the dose-response curve, the CMI assay were shown to be two times more sensitive than the VMI assay. The CMI assay was highly sensitive to the inhibition of mitochondrial function and glucose transport activity by sublethal doses of toxins and to disruption of cellular cation homeostasis by carrier ionophoric toxins, when compared to the cytotoxicity and lethal toxicity assays (i.e., that evaluated the inhibition of cell proliferation in somatic cell lines (FL, PK-15, and MNA cells)) and disruption to spermatozoa membrane integrity. The CMI assay recognized subtle sublethal toxicity changes in metabolism, manifested as a decrease in boar spermatozoa motility. Thus, it was feasible to effectively compare the objectively-measured numerical values for motility inhibition using the CMI assay against those reflecting lethal damage in the spermatozoa cells and somatic cell lines using a cytotoxicity assay.

Original languageEnglish
Article number463
Number of pages15
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 8 Nov 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • biological toxins
  • biosensor
  • boar spermatozoa
  • CASA
  • computed motility inhibition
  • toxicity


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