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Theriogenology. 2003 Jan 15;59(2):651-74.

Factors affecting oocyte quality and quantity in commercial application of embryo technologies in the cattle breeding industry.

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  • 1Holland Genetics, P.O. Box 5073, 6802 EB Arnhem, The Netherlands. merton.s@cr-delta.nl


With the introduction of multiple ovulation, embryo recovery and transfer techniques (MOET) plus embryo freeze-thaw methods in the early 1980s, the breeding industry has the tools in hand to increase the number of calves from donors of high genetic merit. In the early 1990s, the introduction of ovum pick-up followed by in vitro embryo production (OPU-IVP) opened up even greater possibilities. Using these technologies, we challenge biological mechanisms in reproduction. Where normally one oocyte per estrous cycle will develop to ovulation, now numerous other oocytes that otherwise would have degenerated are expected to develop into an embryo. Completion of oocyte growth and pre-maturation in vivo before final maturation both appear to be essential phases in order to obtain competence to develop into an embryo and finally a healthy offspring. In order to increase oocyte quality and quantity in embryo production technologies, current procedures focus primarily on improving the homogeneity of the population of oocytes with regard to growth and state of pre-maturation at the start of a treatment. In the case of MOET, dominant follicle removal (DFR) before superovulation treatment improves the number of viable embryos per session from 3.9 to 5.4 in cows but not in heifers and a prolonged period of follicle development obtained by preventing release of the endogenous LH surge increases the number of ova but not the number of viable embryos per session. In the case of OPU-IVP, the frequency of OPU clearly affects quantity and quality of the collected oocytes and FSH stimulation prior to OPU every 2 weeks resulted in 3.3 embryos per session. Analysis of 7,800 OPU sessions demonstrated that the oocyte yield is dependent on the team, in particular, the technician manipulating the ovaries. It is concluded that an increased understanding of the processes of oocyte growth, pre- and final maturation will help to improve the efficiency of embryo technologies. However, somewhere we will meet the limits dictated by nature.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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