The resazurin reduction test (RRT) is a useful technique to assess the metabolic rate of sperm cells. RRT depends on the ability of metabolically active cells to reduce the non-fluorescent dye resazurin to the fluorescent resorufin. The aim of this study was to develop a vital fluorometric method to evaluate metabolic activity of rabbit sperm cells. Twenty-five rabbit males were included in the study. Viability and morphology, motility and metabolic activity were evaluated using an eosin-nigrosin staining, a computer-assisted semen analysis (CASA) and the RRT, respectively. Spearman rank correlation analysis was used to determine the correlation between RRT and semen parameters. After evaluation, a concentration of 10 × 106 sperm cells/ml was selected for further experiments with RRT. No significant correlation was found between the RRT results and the motility parameters. However, after RRT a significant positive correlation between relative fluorescence units and the percentage of alive spermatozoa (r = 0.62; P = 0.001) and a negative one with the percentage of sperm cells with acrosomic abnormalities (r = −0.45; P < 0.05) were detected.
The vital assessment of metabolic rate of sperm cells by RRT could provide more information about semen quality than other routine semen analysis, correlating with sperm viability and acrosome status information.