Research Article: Electromagnetic field in human sperm cryopreservation improves fertilizing potential of thawed sperm through physicochemical modification of water molecules in freezing medium

Date Published: September 5, 2019

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Dariush Gholami, Seyed Mahmood Ghaffari, Gholamhossein Riazi, Rouhollah Fathi, James Benson, Abdolhossein Shahverdi, Mohsen Sharafi, Stefan Schlatt.


Physicochemical properties of water molecules as the main compositions of the freezing media can be affected by the electromagnetic fled. The purpose of this study was to apply extremely low repetition rate electromagnetic fields (ELEFs) to change the molecular network of water molecules existing in freezing media used for human sperm cryopreservation. First, different time periods and pulsed electromagnetic fields were used to evaluate the physiochemical properties of water. The lowest rate of cluster size, surface tension, viscosity, and density was observed for water samples exposed to 1000 Hz ELEF for 60 min (P < 0.05) that could be results in small ice crystal formation. Therefore, this treatment was selected for further evaluations in human sperm freezing because there was minimal probability of amorphous ice crystallization in this group. To assess fertilizing potential, human semen samples were subjected to ELEF (1000 Hz) water-made freezing medium and cryopreserved. The highest percentage of total motility, progressive motility, viability, membrane integrity, mitochondrial membrane potential, DNA integrity, and TAC were obtained in frozen ELEF as compared to other groups. The percentage of viable spermatozoa (Annexin V-/PI-) in frozen ELEF was significantly higher than in frozen control. The level of ROS was significantly lower in frozen ELEF when compared to frozen control. It can be concluded that the modification of physicochemical properties of water existing in cryopreservation media by ELEF is a suitable strategy to improve the outcome of cryopreservation.

Partial Text

The cryopreservation of living cells and tissues in the world of biotechnology has been developed tremendously because this process allows the recovery of large populations of eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells at very low temperatures [1, 2]. Human semen cryopreservation is one of those beneficial approaches that allows the storage of sperm and thus conserves their sperm quality [3].

Many studies have demonstrated that magnetic fields affect the physicochemical properties of water [28–32], but a few studies have examined the impact of electromagnetic fields on the physicochemical characteristics of liquid water. Also, these studies investigated the ice crystal properties and they did not evaluate the properties of liquid water [20, 33–36]. In our experiment, we evaluated whether electromagnetic field-treated water can be used for the preparation of freezing media and the cryopreservation of human sperm.

Several quality indicators of human sperm after freeze-thaw improved in a freezing medium prepared with the exposed water to 1000 Hz ELEF. It can be considered as useful strategy for increasing the fertilizing potential of thawed semen. This improvement will have important impact on the fertility rate after using frozen-thawed semen in ART.