Influence of Growth Factors on Bovine Embryo Development
Lott, Whitney Meghan
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Many attempts have been made to improve the in vitro production of cattle embryos by refining in vitro maturation (IVM) and culture systems. Cysteine supplementation to IVM media of bovine oocytes increases cellular glutathione production, which reduces reactive oxygen species (ROS). Similarly, beneficial effects of growth factors for improving the rate of blastocyst development have been reported, but combined effects are unknown. This study was conducted to determine the additive effect of the antioxidant cysteine with epidermal growth factor (EGF) and/or insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) on subsequent embryo development. Bovine oocytes from slaughterhouse ovaries were matured in TCM-199 (control), with or without the addition of 0.6 mM cysteine (C) at 0 or 12 h of maturation. After in vitro fertilization, embryos were allocated to culture treatments containing synthetic oviductal fluid medium. Culture treatments included fetal calf serum (FCS, 4%) alone; IGF-I (100 ng/mL); EGF (10 ng/mL); and IGF-I+EGF (100 ng/mL+10 ng/mL) for all IVM treatments. Although rates for blastocysts development were not different among treatments, an increased proportion of embryos attaining morula formation was achieved when cysteine was added to the IVM media (12 h C IGF-I+EGF, 41.4%; 0 h C EGF, 40.0%) as compared to control (FCS: 34.6%). When cysteine treatments were combined, percent cleavage was greater for IGF-I+EGF (70.8%) compared to FCS (61.2%). The abundance of mRNA from the apoptotic genes, Bax and Bcl-2, and the oxidative stress genes, copper (Cu)-zinc (Zn) superoxide dismutase (SOD; SOD1) and manganese (Mn) SOD (SOD2) in embryos was assessed. No significant treatment effect was observed on the expression of apoptotic and oxidative stress genes. Bax was expressed strongly (4-fold) in morulae with the addition of IGF-I, but was less prevalent in all other morula and blastocyst groups relative to FCS. There was slightly less expression of both SOD1 and SOD2 with treatments compared to FCS in morulae and blastocysts, indicative of low mitochondrial activity and/or a low level of oxidative stress in treatments. There was no significant treatment effect on total cell number, apoptotic nuclei, or apoptotic index. In conclusion, supplementation of cysteine during IVM of oocytes, in conjunction with growth factors could effectively be used as a replacement for FCS.
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