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Effects of gaseous atmosphere and antioxidants on the development and cryotolerance of bovine embryos at different periods of in vitro culture

  • Nathália Alves de Souza Rocha-Frigoni (a1), Beatriz Caetano da Silva Leão (a1), Ériklis Nogueira (a2), Mônica Ferreira Accorsi (a1) and Gisele Zoccal Mingoti (a3)...


This study examined the effects of antioxidant supplementation and O2 tension on embryo development, cryotolerance and intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels. The antioxidant supplementation consisted of 0.6 mM cysteine (CYST); 0.6 mM cysteine + 100 μM cysteamine (C+C); 100 IU catalase (CAT) or 100 μM β-mercaptoethanol (β-ME) for 3 or 7 days of in vitro culture (IVC). Two O2 tensions (20% O2 [5% CO2 in air] or 7% O2, 5% CO2 and 88% N2 [gaseous mixture]) were examined. After 7 days of antioxidant supplementation, the blastocyst frequencies were adversely affected (P < 0.05) by CYST (11.2%) and C+C (1.44%), as well as by low O2 tension (17.2% and 11.11% for 20% and 7% O2, respectively) compared with the control (26.6%). The blastocyst re-expansion rates were not affected (P > 0.05) by the treatments (range, 66–100%). After 3 days of antioxidant supplementation, the blastocyst frequencies were not affected (P > 0.05) by any of the antioxidants (range, 43.6–48.5%), but they were reduced by low O2 tension (P < 0.05) (52.1% and 38.4% for 20% and 7% O2, respectively). The intracellular ROS levels, demonstrated as arbitrary fluorescence units, were not affected (P > 0.05) by antioxidant treatment (range, 0.78 to 0.95) or by O2 tension (0.86 and 0.88 for 20% and 7% O2, respectively). The re-expansion rates were not affected (P > 0.05) by any of the treatments (range, 63.6–93.3%). In conclusion, intracellular antioxidant supplementation and low O2 tension throughout the entire IVC period were deleterious to embryo development. However, antioxidant supplementation up to day 3 of IVC did not affect the blastocyst frequencies or intracellular ROS levels.


Corresponding author

All correspondence to: G.Z. Mingoti, School of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Animal Health, UNESP–Universidade Estadual Paulista, Araçatuba 16050–680, São Paulo, Brazil. Tel: +55 18 3636 1375. Fax: +55 18 3636 1352. E-mail:


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