Unravelling the needs of singly in vitro-produced bovine embryos : from cumulus cell co-culture to semi-defined, oil-free culture conditions
Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences. Veterinary Sciences
Reproduction, fertility and development. - East Melbourne
, p. 1084-1092
University of Antwerp
Producing bovine in vitro embryos individually is a challenge as it generally leads to impaired embryo development. Earlier research optimised a single embryo in vitro production (IVP) protocol using serum, cumulus cells and oil during culture. As some of these factors are undesirable in certain circumstances, the present study investigated their necessity and possible interactions, and defined their role during single-embryo culture. Although the cumulus cell monolayer produced progesterone, it appeared not to be a key factor in supporting single-embryo development. Because in vitro culture in large medium volumes was shown to impair single-embryo development, two new oil-free culture protocols were tested. Using a 30-mL droplet of medium in 96-well plates with a small surface area resulted in comparable blastocyst rates to those obtained under oil. When serum was used, co-culture with cumulus cells seems necessary, leading to consistently high blastocyst rates. Finally, a serum-free, oil-free culture system using insulin, transferrin, selenium and BSA resulted in embryos with similar total cell numbers and apoptotic cell ratios, but blastocyst rates did not equal those obtained with serum and co-culture. This research additionally stresses the fact that specific interaction mechanisms between somatic cells and a developing in vitro embryo are far from unravelled.