Nutrition and maternal metabolic health in relation to oocyte and embryo quality : critical views on what we learned from the dairy cow model
Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences. Veterinary Sciences
Reproduction, fertility and development. - East Melbourne
, p. 693-703
University of Antwerp
Although fragmented and sometimes inconsistent, the proof of a vital link between the importance of the physiological status of the mother and her subsequent reproductive success is building up. High- yielding dairy cows are suffering from a substantial decline in fertility outcome over past decades. For many years, this decrease in reproductive output has correctly been considered multifactorial, with factors including farm management, feed ratios, breed and genetics and, last, but not least, ever- rising milk production. Because the problem is complex and requires a multidisciplinary approach, it is hard to formulate straightforward conclusions leading to improvements on the ` work floor'. However, based on remarkable similarities on the preimplantation reproductive side between cattle and humans, there is a growing tendency to consider the dairy cow's negative energy balance and accompanying fat mobilisation as an interesting model to study the impact of maternal metabolic disorders on human fertility and, more specifically, on oocyte and preimplantation embryo quality. Considering the mutual interest of human and animal scientists studying common reproductive problems, this review has several aims. First, we briefly introduce the ` dairy cow case' by describing the state of the art of research into metabolic imbalances and their possible effects on dairy cow reproduction. Second, we try to define relevant in vitro models that can clarify certain mechanisms by which aberrant metabolite levels may influence embryonic health. We report on recent advances in the assessment of embryo metabolism and meantime critically elaborate on advantages and major limitations of in vitro models used so far. Finally, we discuss hurdles to be overcome to successfully translate the scientific data to the field.