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Culture conditions have a profound effect on the quality of in vitro-produced embryos. Co-culturing embryos with somatic cells has some beneficial effects on embryonic development. Considering the ability of stem cells to secrete a broad range of growth factors with different biological activities, we hypothesized that bovine amniotic membrane stem cells (bAMSCs) might be superior to bovine oviduct epithelial cells (BOECs) in supporting embryonic development and enhancing their cryo-survival. Bovine abattoir-derived oocytes were matured and fertilized in vitro. The resultant presumptive zygotes were then cultured up to the blastocyst stage in the following groups: (i) co-culture with bAMSCs, (ii) co-culture with BOECs, and (iii) cell-free culture (Con). Embryos that reached the blastocyst stage were vitrified and warmed, and their post-warming re-expansion, survival and hatching rates were evaluated after 72 h culture. Results showed that the cleavage, blastocyst, and 2 h post-warming re-expansion rates of embryos did not differ between groups. However, their survival rates in BOEC and bAMSC groups were significantly higher compared with the control (72.7, 75.6 and 37.5%, respectively, P < 0.05). In conclusion, our results showed that the cryo-survivability of IVF-derived bovine embryos could be improved through co-culturing with bAMSCs. Moreover, considering the possibility to provide multiple passages from bAMSCs compared with BOECs, due to their stemness properties and their ability to produce growth factors, the use of bAMSCs is a good alternative to BOECs in embryo co-culture systems.
This study was carried out to compare the efficacy of different methods to activate buffalo A + B and C + D quality oocytes parthenogenetically and to study the in vitro developmental competence of oocytes and expression of some important genes at the different developmental stages of parthenotes. The percentage of A + B oocytes (62.16 ± 5.06%, range 53.8–71.3%) was significantly higher (P < 0.001) compared with that of C + D oocytes (37.8 ± 5.00%, range 28.6–46.1%) retrieved from slaughterhouse buffalo ovaries. Among all combinations, ethanol activation followed by culture in research vitro cleave medium gave the highest cleavage and blastocyst yields for both A + B and C + D grade oocytes. Total cell numbers, inner cell mass/trophectoderm ratio and apoptotic index of A + B group blastocysts were significantly different (P < 0.05) from their C + D counterpart. To determine the status of expression patterns of developmentally regulated genes, the expression of cumulus–oocyte complexes, fertilization, developmental competence and apoptotic-related genes were also studied in parthenogenetically produced buffalo embryos at different stages, and indicated that the differential expression patterns of the above genes had a role in early embryonic development.
Numerous factors affect vitrification success and post-thaw development of oocytes after in vitro fertilization. Therefore, elaboration of an optimal methodology ensuring higher cryotolerance of oocytes and subsequent blastocyst yield is still of great interest. This paper describes and evaluates critical factors affecting the success of oocyte vitrification. In particular, an appropriate oocyte stage such as maturation status (germinal vesicle stage, metaphase II stage), presence/absence of cumulus cells before vitrification, and the effect of follicle size, as well as different culture systems and media for in vitro production of embryos, the types and concentrations of cryoprotectants, and cooling and warming rates at vitrification are considered. Special attention is paid to various cryocarriers used for low-volume vitrification, which ensures safe storage of oocytes/embryos in liquid nitrogen and their successful post-thaw recovery. At the end, we focussed on how age of oocyte donors (heifers, cows) influences post-thaw development. This review summarizes results of recently published studies describing different methodologies of cryopreservation and post-thaw oocyte development with the main focus on vitrification of bovine oocytes.
In this report, we present a case of a couple who obtained a live birth with a single oocyte fertilized by intracytoplasmic sperm injection. The oocyte was collected at 36 h post trigger and was found to be at metaphase II when sperm injection was performed. At 18 h post injection, the oocyte was found to be fertilized with two clear pronuclei. The embryo divided and generated a four-cell embryo on day 2, which was replaced to the uterine cavity. Pregnancy test gave a positive β-human chorionic gonadotropin result, the scan performed at 7 weeks, revealed the presence of one amniotic sac with fetal heartbeat. Healthy live birth was obtained after 39 weeks of gestation.
Clinical outcomes following frozen–thawed cleavage embryo transfer versus frozen–thawed blastocyst transfer in high responder patients undergoing in vitro fertilisation/intracytoplasmic sperm injection cycles are still debated. In a retrospective study, 106 high responder patients who were candidate for ‘freeze-all embryos’ were recruited. Frozen–thawed embryos were transferred at the cleavage stage (n = 53) or the blastocyst stage (n = 53). Clinical pregnancy was considered as the primary outcome and chemical pregnancy, ongoing pregnancy, implantation rate, and fertilization rate, as well as miscarriage rate, were measured as the secondary outcome. Clinical (47.2% vs. 24.5%), chemical (56.6% vs. 32.1%), and ongoing pregnancy rates (37.7% vs. 17%) as well as implantation rates (33.6% vs. 13.5%) were significantly higher in the blastocyst group compared with the cleavage group respectively (P < 0.05). Miscarriage rate was comparable between groups (P > 0.05). Transfer of frozen–thawed embryos at the blastocyst stage was preferable in the high responder patients to increase implantation, pregnancy and live birth rates compared with cleavage stage embryo transfer.
This study aimed to evaluate the effect of regulating phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) activity on the kinetics of oocyte nuclear maturation and the blastocyst rate. To evaluate oocyte viability, nuclear maturation rate and in vitro embryo production, cumulus–oocyte complexes (COCs) were maintained for 0, 10 min, 6 h or 22 h in TCM 199 medium supplemented with 20 nM wortmannin, an inhibitor of PI3K. After each period, COCs were transferred to the same medium without wortmannin and kept under the same conditions until completion of 22 h of in vitro maturation (IVM). To evaluate the effect of time on progression of nuclear maturation, COCs cultivated with 20 nM wortmannin was maintained for 22, 28 or 34 h of IVM. To determine the effect of wortmannin on the activity of maturation-promoting factor (MPF), COCs were kept under IVM conditions in the presence of the inhibitor for 0, 1, 3, 6, or 8 h. Exposure of COCs to wortmannin decreased (P < 0.05) the percentage of oocytes that reached metaphase II (MII) up to 22 h, MPF activity and reduced PI3K activity by 30%. However, after 28 and 34 h, 70% of oocytes reached the MII stage in the presence of inhibitor Moreover, COCs matured in the presence of wortmannin showed an increase (P < 0.05) in the blastocyst rate. These findings suggested that the regulation of the PI3K activity during IVM of bovine COCs interfered with the meiotic progression due to control of MPF activity, positively affecting the blastocyst rate.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the production of bovine embryos in vitro when supplemented with l-carnitine for 24 h beginning on day 5 (d 5) under two different oxygen tensions (20% or 5%) and the relationship of nitric oxide (NO) in in vitro culture (IVC) medium to embryo development. Cumulus–oocyte complexes (COC; n = 837) were matured in vitro for 24 h and fertilization was performed for 18 h. Zygotes were cultured in vitro for 9 days after in vitro fertilization in synthetic oviductal fluid (SOF) medium with 5% fetal calf serum. At d 5 the plates were assigned to one of four treatment groups: high (20%) or low (5%) O2 tension either with or without the addition of 3.03 mM l-carnitine (High-Cont, High-Lcar, Low-Cont, Low-Lcar). The concentration of NO in the culture medium was evaluated on d 5, d 6 and d 9. On d 7, parts of the embryos were submitted for evaluation of intracellular lipid droplets. The cleavage rate was similar (P > 0.05) between high and low O2 tension and the blastocyst rate was similar in all conditions evaluated. The hatching rate was higher (P < 0.05) for Low-Cont. The NO concentration was higher at d 9 under low O2 tension (P < 0.1). The addition of 3.03 mM l-carnitine between d 5 and d 6 of IVC was not efficient in reducing cytoplasmic lipid content of bovine embryos. Additionally, IVC at a low oxygen tension without l-carnitine promoted better conditions for embryo development. A higher concentration of NO in medium was observed under low O2 tension.
We hypothesized that Strychnos nux-vomica and Strychnos potatorum in seasonal tropical ecosystems have dormant desiccation-tolerant seeds, while those of Strychnos benthamii growing in aseasonal wet habitats have non-dormant desiccation-sensitive seeds. Germination, imbibition, the effect of gibberellic acid on germination and changes in the embryo to seed length ratio (E:S) during incubation were determined for the three species. Seed storage behaviour was identified with the hundred seed test. Time taken for epicotyl emergence was recorded. Radicle emergence of S. nux-vomica, S. potatorum and S. benthamii at 25°C under light/dark conditions (12/12 h) was completed within 76, 49 and 11 d, respectively. S. nux-vomica and S. potatorum seeds incubated on GA3 germinated to a higher percentage than non-treated seeds. E:S of S. nux-vomica, S. potatorum and S. benthamii had increased by 38.2, 34.5 and 25.5%, respectively, at radicle emergence. Shoot emergence of S. nux-vomica, S. potatorum and S. benthamii was observed after 76, 74 and 45 d from radicle emergence, respectively. Thus, it can be concluded that the seeds of all three species have epicotyl morphophysiological dormancy. Hundred seed tests revealed that S. nux-vomica and S. potatorum seeds were desiccation-tolerant, while those of S. benthamii were desiccation-sensitive. Our study showed that species from seasonal habitats (S. nux-vomica and S. potatorum) have desiccation-tolerant morphophysiologically dormant seeds, while those from an aseasonal habitat (S. benthamii) have desiccation-sensitive morphophysiologically dormant seeds, revealing that their dormancy and desiccation tolerance behaviour are adaptations to their environment.
Two farms applying reproductive technology for the Nellore beef cattle were selected. Both farms had the same technology programme of oestrous synchronization and embryo transfer, but management was different, especially regarding twins pregnancies. In the present study, we followed the farms from the moment of oestrous synchronization, embryo transfer (two per cow), until delivery and first care of the calves. In farm A, cows presenting twin pregnancies (5 from 13) were submitted to delivery induction, as well as calves and cows were monitored after birth. In farm B, such management was not followed with the twin pregnant cows (31 from 49). In both farms, freemartinism was detected, but this was not a problem as none of the animals would be selected for breeding. No dystocia was observed in farm A, while 48% of the twin pregnancies in farm B ended up in dystocia. Furthermore, the mortality rate of new-born calves in farm A was 10%, while in farm B it reached 32%. Although twin pregnancies remain a concern, we showed here that proper management during and after delivery minimizes animal and economic losses.
The process of embryonic development is crucial and radically influences preimplantation embryo competence. It involves oocyte maturation, fertilization, cell division and blastulation and is characterized by different key phases that have major influences on embryo quality. Each stage of the process of preimplantation embryonic development is led by important signalling pathways that include very many regulatory molecules, such as primary and secondary messengers. Many studies, both in vivo and in vitro, have shown the importance of the contribution of reactive oxygen species (ROS) as important second messengers in embryo development. ROS may originate from embryo metabolism and/or oocyte/embryo surroundings, and their effect on embryonic development is highly variable, depending on the needs of the embryo at each stage of development and on their environment (in vivo or under in vitro culture conditions). Other studies have also shown the deleterious effects of ROS in embryo development, when cellular tissue production overwhelms antioxidant production, leading to oxidative stress. This stress is known to be the cause of many cellular alterations, such as protein, lipid, and DNA damage. Considering that the same ROS level can have a deleterious effect on the fertilizing oocyte or embryo at certain stages, and a positive effect at another stage of the development process, further studies need to be carried out to determine the rate of ROS that benefits the embryo and from what rate it starts to be harmful, this measured at each key phase of embryonic development.
In this report we present an unusual case of a couple who achieved a twin pregnancy by intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) with a single immature oocyte retrieved. The oocyte was at metaphase I at 39 h post human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) administration, which is our standard ICSI time. Extended culture allowed the extrusion of the polar body, and sperm injection was performed at 43 h post-trigger. The fertilized egg underwent embryo biopsy on day 3 and preimplantation genetic assessment for three chromosomes (X, Y and 21). The embryo remained in culture until day 5. Later, the biopsy results reported a transferable embryo, which was replaced to the uterine cavity at blastocyst stage. Pregnancy test gave a positive β-hCG result, and the 6 weeks’ scan, performed to confirm the fetal heart, revealed the presence of one amniotic sac and two fetal heartbeats, which currently have been so far eventless and smooth, ongoing at 18 weeks of gestation.
This study aimed to describe outcomes in four women aged 28–34 years with central cytoplasmic granulation (CCG) of the oocytes who underwent in vitro fertilization/intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) using gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonist to replace human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) as a trigger of final oocyte maturation. The initial ICSI procedure showed that all four women had CCG of the ooplasm and poor quality embryos. Subsequent ICSI used an antagonist protocol with a GnRH agonist trigger replacing the agonist protocol, plus hCG triggered ovulation. Ooplasm and embryo quality were improved in all four patients. All four became pregnant and gave birth to live infants. This study provides GnRH agonist triggering that may improve ooplasm granularity and embryo quality.
The objective of this study was to compare the rates of clinical pregnancy after the transfer of vitrified and thawed human embryos on days 3, 4 and 5 of embryonic development. In this retrospective study, the results of 148 embryo transfer cycles, using embryos frozen and thawed over the 3-year period between January 2016 and December 2018 at the Gülhane Training and Research Hospital Department of Gynecology and Obsterics Reproductive Medical Center of the University of Health Sciences, Ankara, Turkey were examined. Following embryo transfer – including 29 dissolved embryos frozen on day 3, 80 frozen on day 4, and 39 frozen on day 5 – results were examined in terms of clinical pregnancy rates. In this study, across all three groups, no significant differences were observed in terms of patient age, the number of oocytes collected, infertility reasons, the number of embryos dissolved, transfer day, or the number of embryos transferred. According to the transfer day, the rates of clinical pregnancy and ongoing pregnancy were significantly higher for embryos frozen on day 4 and transferred on day 5. Significantly higher rates of pregnancy and live birth were determined during in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment with the freezing of human embryos on day 4 and the transfer of those embryos on day 5.
This paper is a retrospective analysis of the sole transfer of monopronucleated zygotes (1PN) embryos both in in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) to determine the value of transferring embryos formed from 1PN. In fresh cycles, 1PN cleavage-stage embryos (1PN cleavage fresh) were transferred. In frozen–thawed cycles, 1PN blastocyst-stage embryos (1PN blast frozen) were transferred. We used comparison groups: for fresh cycles, 2PN cleavage-stage embryos (2PN cleavage fresh) were transferred; and for frozen–thawed cycles, 2PN blastocyst-stage embryos (2PN blast frozen) were transferred. Comparison groups were matched for cycle and patient characteristics to the 1PN group. Finally, for fresh cycles, live birth rates (LBR) in the 1PN cleavage group were significantly lower than those in 2PN cleavage group, both for IVF [LBR = 7.64% vs. pregnancy rate (PR) = 22.12%, P = 0.003, respectively] and ICSI (LBR = 0% vs. LBR = 20.00%, P < 0.001, respectively). For frozen–thawed IVF cycles, the PR in the 1PN blastocyst group were comparable with those of the 2PN blastocyst group (1PN: LBR = 33.14% vs. 2PN: LBR = 37.24%, P = 0.289, respectively), while in ICSI, the PR in the 1PN blastocyst group were lower than those in the 2PN blastocyst group (LBR = 15.25% vs. LBR = 40.68%, P = 0.002, respectively). So, for IVF, blastocyst culture was capable of selecting normal 1PN embryos for transfer and achieves satisfying outcomes. However, for ICSI, blastocyst culture was not effective enough to eliminate abnormal embryos and 1PN embryo transfer needed to be treated with caution.
Polyploids generated by natural whole genome duplication have served as a dynamic force in vertebrate evolution. As evidence for evolution, polyploid organisms exist generally, however there have been no reports of polyploid organisms in mammals. In mice, polyploid embryos under normal culture conditions normally develop to the blastocyst stage. Nevertheless, most tetraploid embryos degenerate after implantation, indicating that whole genome duplication produces harmful effects on normal development in mice. Most previous research on polyploidy has mainly focused on tetraploid embryos. Analysis of various ploidy outcomes is important to comprehend the effects of polyploidization on embryo development. The purpose of this present study was to discover the extent of the polyploidization effect on implantation and development in post-implantation embryos. This paper describes for the first time an octaploid embryo implanted in mice despite hyper-polyploidization, and indicates that these mammalian embryos have the ability to implant, and even develop, despite the harmfulness of extreme whole genome duplication.
Marine angelfish (family: Pomacanthidae) are among the most sought-after fish species in the saltwater aquarium trade. However, there is a lack of information in the literature on their early ontogeny. The objective of this study was to describe the embryonic and early larval development of two dwarf angelfish, the bicolour angelfish, Centropyge bicolor and the coral beauty angelfish, Centropyge bispinosa. The eggs of these two species were obtained from spontaneous spawning of the broodstock fish in captivity and incubated at 26.0 ± 0.2°C throughout the study. Fertilized eggs (n = 15) of both species are transparent, pelagic and spherical; the mean diameters of the eggs were measured at 703.6 ± 7.8 μm for C. bicolor and 627.6 ± 7.8 μm for C. bispinosa. The eggs of both species possessed a narrow perivitelline space, smooth and thin chorion, a homogenous and non-segmented yolk as well as a single oil globule. Overall, the observed embryonic development pattern of C. bicolor and C. bispinosa was very similar, and the main difference was the embryonic pigmentation pattern, which only became evident close to hatching. Larvae of both species started hatching at 13 h 30 min after fertilization, and the larval characteristics of both species also showed high levels of similarities. However, the mouth opening time for C. bicolor was 72 h after hatching (AH) and 96 AH for C. bispinosa. In general, the observed early ontogeny of C. bicolor and C. bispinosa also resembled that of other Centropyge species documented in the literature.
Mono-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (MEHP) is the primary metabolite of the ubiquitous plasticizer and toxicant, di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate. MEHP exposure has been linked to abnormal development, increased oxidative stress, and metabolic syndrome in vertebrates. Nuclear factor, Erythroid 2 Like 2 (Nrf2), is a transcription factor that regulates gene expression in response to oxidative stress. We investigated the role of Nrf2a in larval steatosis following embryonic exposure to MEHP. Wild-type and nrf2a mutant (m) zebrafish embryos were exposed to 0 or 200 μg/l MEHP from 6 to either 96 (histology) or 120 hours post fertilization (hpf). At 120 hpf, exposures were ceased and fish were maintained in clean conditions until 15 days post fertilization (dpf). At 15 dpf, fish lengths and lipid content were examined, and the expression of genes involved in the antioxidant response and lipid processing was quantified. At 96 hpf, a subset of animals treated with MEHP had vacuolization in the liver. At 15 dpf, deficient Nrf2a signaling attenuated fish length by 7.7%. MEHP exposure increased hepatic steatosis and increased expression of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha target fabp1a1. Cumulatively, these data indicate that developmental exposure alone to MEHP may increase risk for hepatic steatosis and that Nrf2a does not play a major role in this phenotype.
Assisted reproduction techniques (ARTs) provide access to early stage embryos whose analysis and assessment deliver valuable information. The handling of embryos, including the in vitro production of bovine embryos, is a rapidly evolving area which nonetheless exposes the embryos to unnatural conditions for a period of time. The Fallopian tube provides innumerable quantitative and qualitative factors, all of which guarantee the successful development of the embryo. It is well known that the Fallopian tube can be bypassed, using embryo transfer, resulting in successful implantation in the target recipient animal and the birth of calves. However, the question arises as to whether such circumvention has a negative impact on the embryo during this sensitive development period. First crosstalk between the embryo and its environment confirms mutual recognition activities and indicate bilateral effects. Nowadays, in vitro production of bovine embryos is a well-established technology. However, it is still evident that in vitro generated embryos are not qualitatively comparable to embryos obtained ex vivo. To counteract these differences, comparative studies between in vitro and ex vivo embryos are advantageous, as embryos grown in their physiological environment can provide a blueprint or gold standard against which to compare embryos produced in vitro. Attempts to harness the bovine oviduct were sometimes very invasive and did not result in wide acceptance and routine use. Long-term development and refinement of transvaginal endoscopy for accessing the bovine oviduct has meanwhile been routinely applied for research as well as in practice. Comparative studies combining in vitro development with development in the cattle oviduct revealed that the environmental conditions to which the embryo is exposed before activation of the embryonic genome can have detrimental and lasting effects on its further development. These effects are manifested as deviations in gene expression profiles and methylation signatures as well as frequency of whole chromosomal or segmental aberrations. Furthermore, it was shown that hormonal superstimulation (multiple ovulation and embryo transfer), varying progesterone concentrations as well as metabolic disorders caused by high milk production, markedly affected embryo development in the postpartum period. Assisted reproductive techniques that allow the production and handling of extra numbers of generated embryos promise to have a very high impact on scientific and practical application. Any influence on the early embryonic life, both in animals and in vitro, is accompanied by a sensitive change in embryonic activity and should be assessed in vivo on the basis of physiological conditions before being used for ART.
Dichorionic diamniotic (DCDA) twin pregnancies after single blastocyst embryo transfer have been reported recently, although a blastocyst ovum is generally believed to divide into monochorionic twin pregnancy. We investigated the incidence of DCDA twin pregnancy after single blastocyst embryo transfer and their zygosity. This prospective cohort study included 655 consecutive twin pregnancies that were managed from 2006 to 2014 at our institution. Chorionicity and amnionicity were determined using first-trimester ultrasonography and/or placental pathology. Zygosity was analyzed if the cases were DCDA twins after single blastocyst embryo transfer. Among 655 twin pregnancies, there were 348 DCDA cases, 295 monochorionic diamniotic (MCDA) cases and 12 monochorionic monoamniotic cases. Single blastocyst embryo transfer was performed in 43 cases. Six out of the 43 (14%) cases involved DCDA twin pregnancies and the other 37 cases involved MCDA twin pregnancies. Three DCDA twins born after single blastocyst embryo transfer, wherein frozen embryo transfer (FET) was performed in the natural cycle, were dizygotic, and the other three cases, wherein FET with hormone replacement therapy was performed, were monozygotic. DCDA twin pregnancy occurred in 14% (7% for monozygotic and 7% for dizygotic) of twin pregnancies after single blastocyst embryo transfer cases.
Spontaneous blastocyst collapse during in vitro embryo development has been suggested as a novel marker of embryo quality. Therefore, the aim of this multicentre study was to carry out a retrospective multicentre analysis to investigate the correlation between blastocyst collapse and pregnancy outcome. Here, 1297 intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)/in vitro fertilization (IVF) fresh cycles, with an elective single blastocyst transfer (eSET) were included in this study. Embryos were cultured individually in 6.0% CO2, 5.0% O2, 89.0% N2, using single step medium (GTLTM VitroLife, Sweden) or sequential medium (CookTM, Cook Medical, Australia) and selected for transfer using standard morphological criteria. With the use of time-lapse monitoring (TLM), blastocysts were analyzed by measuring the maximum volume reduction and defined as having collapsed, if there was ≥ 50% volume reduction from the expanded blastocyst and the collapse event. Following embryo replacement, each blastocyst was retrospectively allocated to one of two groups (collapsed or not collapsed). Here, 259 blastocysts collapsed once or more during development (19.9%) and the remaining 1038 either contracted minimally or not collapsed (80.1%). A significantly higher ongoing pregnancy rate (OPR) of 51.9% (95% CI 48.9–59.9%) was observed when blastocysts that had not collapsed were replaced compared with cycles in which collapsed blastocysts were transferred 37.5% (95% CI 31.6–43.4%). This study suggests that human blastocysts that collapse spontaneously during development are less likely to implant and generate a pregnancy compared with embryos that do not. Although this is a retrospective study, the results demonstrated the utility of collapse episodes as new marker of embryo selection following eSET at blastocyst stage.