How Dietary Iron Affects Semen Quality Through Inflammation and Oxidative Stress

Greg Howard
7th July, 2024

How Dietary Iron Affects Semen Quality Through Inflammation and Oxidative Stress

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • The study was conducted at Huazhong Agricultural University to investigate the effects of different iron supplements on boar semen quality
  • Boars fed with 80 mg/kg or 115 mg/kg of MHA-Fe showed improved semen quality, including lower abnormal sperm rates and higher functional sperm counts
  • The study suggests that current iron supplementation guidelines may need revision to optimize boar reproductive performance
Iron deficiency in boars can significantly impact their health and reproductive performance. A recent study conducted by Huazhong Agricultural University aimed to address this issue by investigating the effects of different forms and levels of dietary iron supplementation on semen quality in boars[1]. The study involved 56 healthy Topeka E line boars aged 15–21 months, which were randomly divided into five groups. These groups were fed a basal diet supplemented with varying levels and forms of iron: 96 mg/kg ferrous sulfate (FeSO4) and 54 mg/kg glycine chelated iron (Gly-Fe) as the control group, 80 mg/kg or 115 mg/kg Gly-Fe, and 80 mg/kg or 115 mg/kg methionine hydroxyl analogue chelated iron (MHA-Fe, from Calimet-Fe) for 16 weeks. This study is significant because it highlights the inadequacy of the current National Research Council (NRC) recommended levels and forms of iron supplementation in boar diets. Despite being fed a mix of inorganic and organic iron, boars still developed anemia, suggesting a need to reassess these guidelines. Previous research has indicated the importance of trace elements in boar reproductive health. For instance, a study on Yorkshire boars found that serum iron levels were positively correlated with sperm motility and negatively correlated with abnormal sperm rates[2]. Another study on Duroc boars showed that low serum iron and manganese levels were associated with reduced semen utilization rates and impaired sperm motility and morphology[3]. These findings underscore the critical role of iron and other trace elements in maintaining semen quality. The Huazhong Agricultural University study expanded on these earlier findings by specifically examining the effects of different iron sources and levels on semen quality. The results could help refine dietary recommendations and improve reproductive outcomes in boars. By comparing the control group with groups receiving Gly-Fe and MHA-Fe, the researchers aimed to identify the most effective form and level of iron supplementation. The study's findings could have significant implications for artificial insemination (AI) centers, where poor semen quality is a common reason for boar removal[4]. By optimizing iron supplementation, AI centers could potentially reduce the incidence of poor sperm quality, which was the most frequent removal reason in a previous study involving 6,496 Pietrain boars across 53 European AI centers[4]. In conclusion, the study conducted by Huazhong Agricultural University provides valuable insights into the effects of different iron supplements on boar semen quality. These findings build on previous research[2][3][4] and could help refine dietary recommendations, ultimately improving reproductive performance and economic outcomes in swine production.

NutritionHealthAnimal Science


Main Study

1) Source and level of dietary iron influence semen quality by affecting inflammation, oxidative stress and iron utilization levels in boars

Published 6th July, 2024

Related Studies

2) Microelements in seminal and serum plasma are associated with fresh semen quality in Yorkshire boars.

3) Serum and Seminal Plasma Element Concentrations in Relation to Semen Quality in Duroc Boars.

4) Lifetime and removal reasons for Pietrain boars in European AI centers: a retrospective analysis.

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