The associations of semen abnormalities with circulating hormones (estrogens, glucocorticoid, insulin) and common biochemical parameters are unclear in beef bulls. We compared plasma concentrations of estradiol-17β, cortisol, and insulin and serum biochemical parameters surrounding puberty in Japanese Black beef bulls (n = 96) with normal post-thaw or abnormal semen (fresh and frozen). Blood samples were collected monthly from 4 to 24 months of age (n = 50) for the assays of plasma estradiol, cortisol, and insulin and every 3 months from 6 to 21 months of age (n = 92) for the serum biochemical analyses. Semen was collected weekly from 12 months until at least 18 months of age. Fresh semen was evaluated for semen volume, sperm progressive motility, concentrations, and morphological defects. The normal fresh semen was frozen by a standard method and examined for post-thaw sperm motility and fertility, which were evaluated for rates of transferable embryos. Bulls were classified as having either normal fresh semen or abnormal fresh semen (when at least one of the above test items was abnormal for 6 months). The normal fresh semen was categorized as having either normal post-thaw semen or low fertility post-thaw semen. The abnormal fresh semen was categorized as having sperm morphological defects, low motility, or morphological defects plus low motility. Plasma cortisol concentrations in the abnormal fresh semen group were higher than those of the normal fresh semen group (p < 0.0001). Plasma estradiol-17β and insulin concentrations in the low-fertility post-thaw semen group were lower than those of the normal post-thaw semen group (p < 0.0001). Serum aspartate aminotransferase and magnesium concentrations were greater for the abnormal fresh semen group vs. the normal fresh semen group (p < 0.005). These results suggest that fresh semen abnormality in pubertal beef bulls might be associated with increased circulating aspartate aminotransferase, magnesium and cortisol. Low-fertility post-thaw semen could have been involved with the lower peripheral estradiol and insulin levels in beef bulls.
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