148 EFFECT OF FOLLISTATIN TREATMENT POST-FERTILIZATION ON TIME TO FIRST CLEAVAGE, DEVELOPMENT TO THE BLASTOCYST STAGE, AND CELL ALLOCATION OF IN VITRO-PRODUCED BOVINE EMBRYOS
K. B. Lee, A. Bettegowda, J. J. Ireland and G. W. Smith
Reproduction, Fertility and Development
19(1) 191 - 192
Published: 12 December 2006
Previous studies from our laboratory have demonstrated a positive association of follistatin mRNA abundance with oocyte competence. Follistatin mRNA is greater in germinal vesicle stage oocytes collected from prepubertal (model of poor oocyte competence) vs. adult animals. Furthermore, follistatin mRNA abundance is also greater in early-cleaving 2-cell bovine embryos (collected prior to the maternal zygotic transition and initiation of significant transcription from the embryonic genome) than their late-cleaving counterparts. Given these results and the fact that early-cleaving embryos develop to the blastocyst stage at a greater rate, we hypothesized that follistatin has a stimulatory role in early embryonic development. To begin to test this hypothesis, we determined the effects of follistatin treatment of in vitro-produced bovine embryos (during the initial 72 h post-fertilization) on time to first cleavage, development to the blastocyst stage (Day 7), and blastocyst cell allocation (quality). Cumulus–oocyte complexes (COCs) were harvested from ovaries obtained from a local abattoir, matured, and fertilized in vitro. After 20 h of co-incubation with spermatozoa, presumptive zygotes were stripped of cumulus cells and cultured in KSOM medium supplemented with 0.3% BSA containing 0, 1, 10, or 100 ng mL-1 follistatin (n = 25 presumptive zygotes per treatment; n = 6 replicates). Proportions of embryos reaching the 2-cell stage within 30 h (early-cleaving), 30–36 h (late-cleaving), and within 48 h post-fertilization (total cleavage rate) were recorded. Embryos at the 8–16-cell stage were separated 72 h after fertilization and cultured in fresh KSOM medium supplemented with 0.3% BSA and 10% FBS until Day 7. The proportion of embryos reaching the blastocyst stage at Day 7 post-fertilization was recorded and the numbers of inner cell mass (ICM) and trophectoderm (TE) cells determined by differential staining. Follistatin treatment did not increase the rate of total cleavage and the proportion of late-cleaving embryos when compared to control. However, supplementation with 1 and 10, but not 100, ng mL-1 follistatin increased the proportion of early-cleaving embryos (26.3 and 35.3% vs. 9.5%) and development to the blastocyst stage (28.6 and 31.7% vs. 18.4%) relative to controls (P < 0.05). Treatment with 10 ng mL-1 follistatin increased total cell numbers (130.1 vs. 110.9) and proportion of trophectoderm cells (61.6% vs. 48.4%) and decreased the ICM/total cell ratio (38.4% vs. 51.5%) in Day 7 blastocysts relative to controls (P < 0.05). The results indicate that exogenous follistatin treatment during the early stages of in vitro bovine embryo development can enhance time to first cleavage, development to the blastocyst stage, and cell allocation in favor of increased trophectoderm cells, and can support a potential functional role for follistatin in early embryogenesis.
Full text doi:10.1071/RDv19n1Ab148
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