Improved in vitro development of OPU-derived bovine (Bos taurus) embryos by group culture with agarose-embedded helper embryos.

Theriogenology

PubMedID: 20708248

Senatore EM, Xu J, Suárez Novoa MV, Gong G, Lin T, Bella A, Moreno JF, Mannino ME, Tian X, Presicce GA, Wu SC, Du F. Improved in vitro development of OPU-derived bovine (Bos taurus) embryos by group culture with agarose-embedded helper embryos. Theriogenology. 2010;74(9):1643-51.
The average number of oocytes collected by ovum pick up (OPU) from Bos taurus cattle is <8 per live donor. The objective was to determine whether development of small numbers of cattle embryos (produced by OPU and IVF), was enhanced by including "helper" embryos, produced from abbatoir-derived oocytes and embedded in agarose. Oocytes were from abbatoir-derived ovaries (Experiments 1 and 2) or OPU of elite donors (Experiment 3). In Experiment 1, cleaved embryos (2-8 cells), were randomly allocated. Controls were groups of 1, 3, 5, 10, and 20 cleaved embryos cultured in 50 µL serum-free SOF, whereas treatments were groups of 1, 3, and 5 embryos freely cultured along with helpers in groups of either 9, 7 or 5 embedded in agarose per droplet. Therefore, there were 10 cleaved embryos per droplet in combinations of 1 + 9, 3 + 7 or 5 + 5 (free + helper), respectively. There was an increase in the progression to blastocyst for 1-5 embryos per droplet, compared to 10 and 20 (6.6-24.2% vs. 39.2-43.3%, P < 0.05). For the tested free embryos, those cultured with helpers had increased blastocyst development over their control counterparts (39.3-49.5% vs. 6.6-24.2%, P < 0.05). When the number of embryos per droplet was 10 or 20, blastocyst percentage was similar (39.2-49.5%, P > 0.05). In Experiment 2, addition of an agarose chip to the culture medium did not significantly affect development to the blastocyst stage. In Experiment 3, after fertilizing OPU oocytes with sorted X-sperm, a group of three cleaved embryos were cultured in a droplet with either seven helpers (3 + 7) or alone (3 + 0). Blastocyst development of OPU oocytes in the 3 + 7 group was 37.1%, higher than that in the 3 + 0 group (11.8%, P < 0.05). In conclusion, limited numbers of OPU/IVF oocytes had competent development when cultured with helpers (embedded in agarose to provide physical separation).