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In vitro development rate of preimplantation rabbit embryos cultured with different levels of melatonin

  • Gamal Mohamed Kamel Mehaisen (a1) and Ayman Moustafa Saeed (a2)


This study aimed to investigate the effect of melatonin supplementation at different levels in culture medium on embryo development in rabbits. Embryos of 2–4 cells, 8–16 cells and morula stages were recovered from nulliparous Red Baladi rabbit does by laparotomy technique 24, 48 and 72 h post-insemination, respectively. Normal embryos from each stage were cultured to hatched blastocyst stages in either control culture medium (TCM-199 + 20% fetal bovine serum) or control supplemented with melatonin at 10−3 M, 10−6 M or 10−9 M. No effect of melatonin was found on development of embryos recovered at 24 h post-insemination. The high level of melatonin at 10−3 M adversely affected the in vitro development rates of embryos recovered at 48 h post-insemination (52 versus 86, 87 and 80% blastocyst rate; 28 versus 66, 78 and 59% hatchability rate for 10−3 M versus 10−9 M, 10−6 M and control, respectively, P< 0.05). At the morula stage, melatonin at 10−3 M significantly increased the in vitro development of embryos (92% for 10−3 M versus 76% for control, P < 0.05), while the hatchability rate of these embryos was not improved by melatonin (16–30% versus 52% for melatonin groups versus control, P < 0.05). Results show that a moderate level of melatonin (10−6 M) may improve the development and hatchability rates of preimplantation rabbit embryos. The addition of melatonin at a 10−3 M concentration enhances the development of rabbit morulae but may negatively affect the development of earlier embryos. More studies are needed to optimize the use of melatonin in in vitro embryo culture in rabbits.


Corresponding author

All correspondence to: Gamal Mohamed Kamel Mehaisen. Animal Production Department, Faculty of Agriculture, Cairo University, 7 Gamaa Street, Postal code 12613, Giza, Egypt. Tel: +20 235716105. Fax: +20 235717355. e-mail:


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