Published online by Cambridge University Press: 30 September 2019
Human embryo studies have proposed the use of additional morphological evaluations related to the moment of the first cell divisions as relevant to embryo viability. Nevertheless, there are still not enough data available related to morphokinetic analysis and its relationship with lipid composition in embryos. Therefore, the aim of this study was to address the lipid profile of bovine embryos with different developmental kinetics: fast (four or more cells) and slow (two or three cells) at 40 h post-insemination (hpi), at three time points of in vitro culture (40, 112 and 186 hpi) and compare these to profiles of in vivo embryos. The lipid profiles of embryos were analyzed by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization mass spectrometry, which mainly detected pools of membrane lipids such as phosphatidylcholine and sphingomyelin. In addition to their structural function, these lipid classes have an important role in cell signalling, particularly regarding events such as stress and pregnancy. Different patterns of lipids in the fast and slow groups were revealed in all the analyzed stages. Also, differences between in vitro embryos were more pronounced at 112 hpi, a critical moment due to embryonic genome activation. At the blastocyst stage, in vitro-produced embryos, despite the kinetics, had a closer lipid profile when compared with in vivo blastocysts. In conclusion, the kinetics of development had a greater effect on the membrane lipid profiles throughout the embryo culture, especially at the 8–16-cell stage. The in vitro environment affects lipid composition and may compromise cell signalling and function in blastocysts.