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Vertebrate reproductive science and technology

47 A New Device and Method for Successful Vitrification of In Vitro-Produced Ovine Embryos

S. Ledda A , J. M. Kelly B , S. K. Walker B , Y. Natan C and A. Arav C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Sassari, Sassari, Italy;

B Turretfield Research Centre, South Australian Research and Development Institute, Rosedale, South Australia, Australia;

C FertileSafe Ltd., Ness Ziona, Israel

Reproduction, Fertility and Development 30(1) 163-163
Published: 4 December 2017


To advance the use of embryo vitrification technology in veterinary practice, we developed a system in which embryo vitrification, warming, and dilution can be performed within a straw. An in-straw embryo cryopreservation method reduces the need for equipment and technical skills and can facilitate direct embryo transfer to the uterus. This study proposes the use of a new device named “Sarah” that is designed to permit all in-straw embryo cryopreservation procedures. Ovine in vitro-produced (IVP) embryos were vitrified at either early blastocyst stage (EB, n = 65, 6 days post-IVF) or fully expanded blastocyst stage (FB, n = 168, 7 days post-IVF). The vitrification procedure using Sarah constituted a 0.25-mL straw with a capsule having 50-µm pores inserted at one end. Embryos at each stage (EB and FB) were divided into 2 subgroups and vitrified by 1 of 2 methods: (1) multi-step (MS) group-a straw containing 2 embryos was sequentially loaded vertically into 1.5-mL tubes containing 6 different vitrification solutions: 10, 20, 40, 60, 80, or 100% ES (with 100% ES being 7.5% DMSO +7.5% EG + 20% FCS in TCM-199; 90 s each step) followed by 30 s each in 75 and 100% VS (100% VS being 18% DMSO +18% EG + 0.5 M trehalose + BSA in TCM-199); and (2) two-step (TS) group-the straw (2 embryos/straw) was loaded with 100% of ES (5 min), followed by 100% VS solution for 30 s. For both methods, at the end of the preparation steps, the straws were plunged directly into liquid N2. Non-vitrified embryos were maintained in in vitro culture as a control group (n = 102). The warming procedure consisted of placing the straws directly into 5-mL tubes containing 100, 50, 25% WS (WS = 1 M sucrose in TCM-199+ 20% FCS) at 38.6°C (for first solution) and at room temperature for all the rest (5 min each), before being placed into the holding medium. Embryos were recovered from the straws, incubated at 38.6 C in 5% CO2 in air in TCM 199 + 5% FCS, and evaluated for blastocoel re-expansion, embryo survival, and hatching rate at 2, 14, 48 h post-warming. Blastocyst re-expansion (2 h) after warming increased as the developmental stage progressed and was not affected by the vitrification method. In fact, it was significantly (P < 0.05) higher for FB vitrified in the MS and TS methods (77.90% and 71.25%, respectively) compared with the EB method (62.5% and 48.50%, respectively). At 24 h, survival rate of vitrified FB was significantly higher (P < 0.05) in the MS system (95.35%) compared with those in TS (86.25%). Survival rates of FB embryos for both methods (MS and TS) were significantly higher (P < 0.001) than EB embryos vitrified in MS (56.25%) and TS (56.55) methods. After 48 h of culture, the hatching rate for FB vitrified in the MS system (87.21%) was comparable with TS (77.5%) and control (85.3%) groups but significantly higher (P < 0.001) than vitrified EB in MS (43.75%) and TS (36.36%). In conclusion, we showed that a high survival rate of IVP embryos can be achieved by this new in-straw vitrification and warming device (“Sarah”), with hatching rates in vitro comparable with that of control fresh embryos. This method has the potential for use in direct embryo transfer in field conditions.

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