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RFD is the official journal of the International Embryo Transfer Society and the Society for Reproductive Biology.


 

Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 22(1)

Effects of gamete source and culture conditions on the competence of in vitro-produced embryos for post-transfer survival in cattle

Peter J. Hansen A D, Jeremy Block A B, Barbara Loureiro A, Luciano Bonilla A, Katherine E. M. Hendricks A C

A Department of Animal Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-0910, USA.
B Ovatech LLC, Gainesville, FL 32605, USA.
C Present address: Southwest Florida Research and Education Center, University of Florida, Immokalee, FL 34142, USA.
D Corresponding author. Email: hansen@animal.ufl.edu
 
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Abstract

One limitation to the use of in vitro-produced embryos in cattle production systems is the fact that pregnancy rates after transfer to recipients are typically lower than when embryos produced in vivo are transferred. Conceptually, the oocyte and spermatozoon from which the embryo is derived could affect competence for post-transfer survival. There are sire differences in embryonic survival after transfer, but there is little evidence that an embryo’s ability to establish pregnancy is determined by sex sorting of spermatozoa by flow cytometry. The role of the source of the oocyte as a determinant of embryonic survival after transfer has not been examined carefully. Conditions for embryo culture after fertilisation can have an impact on the ability of the embryo to establish pregnancy following transfer. Among the specific molecules produced in the reproductive tract of the cow that have been shown to improve competence of in vitro-produced embryos for post-transfer survival are colony-stimulating factor 2, insulin-like growth factor-1 (for recipients exposed to heat stress) and hyaluronan (for less-advanced embryos). There is also a report that embryo competence for post-transfer survival can be improved by inclusion of a carbon-activated air filtration system in the incubator used to culture embryos. Progress in developing culture systems to improve embryonic competence for survival after transfer would be hastened by the development of in vitro assays that accurately predict the potential of an embryo to establish pregnancy after transfer. A group of 52 genes has been identified that are differentially expressed in embryos that developed to term v. embryos that did not establish pregnancy. Perhaps a gene microarray consisting of these genes, alone or in combination with other genes, could be used to screen embryos for competence to establish pregnancy.

Keywords: assisted reproduction, fertility, in vitro fertilisation.


   
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