Reproduction, Fertility and Development Reproduction, Fertility and Development Society
Vertebrate reproductive science and technology


Y. H. Choi A , I. C. Velez A , B. Macías-García A and K. Hinrichs A
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Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, USA

Reproduction, Fertility and Development 27(1) 112-112
Published: 4 December 2014


In equine cloning, the scarcity of equine oocytes places emphasis on development of the most efficient nuclear transfer (NT) methods possible. In other species, using oocytes matured for the shortest duration needed to reach metaphase II has increased NT efficiency. In the present study, we examined the effect of duration of oocyte maturation at the time of enucleation on equine cloned blastocyst production. Oocytes were collected from live mares by transvaginal ultrasound-guided aspiration of all visible follicles ≥5 mm in diameter. The oocytes were held overnight (16–22 h) at room temperature, matured in vitro, and reconstructed with donor cells as described in our previous study (Choi et al. 2013 Theriogenology 79, 791–796). In Experiment 1, oocytes were divided into 2 groups and matured for 20 or 24 h. After enucleation, oocytes were reconstructed by direct injection of donor cells. Reconstructed oocytes were held for 5 h and then activated by treatment with 5 μM ionomycin for 4 min, then injection with sperm extract, followed by incubation in 2 mM 6-DMAP for 4 h. The activated reconstructed oocytes were cultured in global human embryo culture medium under 5% CO2, 6% O2, and 89% N2 at 38.2°C for 7 to 11 days (20 mM glucose was added at Day 5) and blastocyst rate was recorded. Because a low maturation rate was found at 20 h in Experiment 1, in Experiment 2 oocytes were denuded at 20 h and those that were mature were enucleated and used for NT; those that had not cast out a polar body at 20 h were cultured for an additional 3 h (20 + 3h) and then evaluated for polar body formation and used for NT, which was conducted as in Experiment 1. Data were analysed by Fisher's exact test. In Experiment 1, 203 oocytes were collected in 46 aspiration sessions. The rate of oocyte maturation to metaphase II was significantly lower for oocytes cultured for 20 h (35/116, 30%), than for those cultured for 24 h (47/80, 59%). However, the rate of blastocyst development was significantly higher for oocytes cultured for 20 h (11/27, 41%) than for 24 h (2/38, 5%). In Experiment 2, 89 oocytes were collected in 18 aspiration sessions. After 20 h of maturation culture, 22 oocytes were mature (25%). After an additional 3 h of culture, 21 additional oocytes had matured. There were no significant differences between the two treatments (20 and 20 + 3h) in reconstruction rates (77%, 17/22, and 90%, 19/21, respectively) or blastocyst rates (24%, 4/17, and 32%, 6/19, respectively). These results indicate that duration of in vitro maturation, or the duration of presence of cumulus cells, influences blastocyst development after somatic cell NT in the horse. This appears to be due to a benefit of using oocytes immediately after they reach metaphase II; if this is ensured as in Experiment 2, the duration of maturation itself had no effect.

This work was supported by the American Quarter Horse Foundation, the Link Equine Research Endowment Fund, Texas A&M University, and by Ms. Kit Knotts.

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