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Reproduction. 2005 Nov;130(5):655-68.

Amino acid depletion and appearance during porcine preimplantation embryo development in vitro.

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  • 1University of York, Department of Biology, PO Box 373, York, Yorkshire YO10 5DD, UK.


Preimplantation embryos can consume and produce amino acids in a manner dependent upon the stage of development that may be predictive of subsequent viability. In order to examine these relationships in the pig, patterns of net depletion and appearance of amino acids by in vitro produced porcine preimplantation embryos were examined. Cumulus oocyte complexes derived from slaughterhouse pre-pubertal pig ovaries were matured for 40 h in defined TCM-199 medium (containing PVA) before being fertilised (Day 0) with frozen-thawed semen in Tris-based medium. After 6 h, presumptive zygotes were denuded and cultured in groups of 20, in NCSU-23 medium modified to contain 0.1 mM glutamine plus a mixture of 19 amino acids (aa) at low concentrations (0.02-0.11 mM) (NCSU-23(aa)). Groups of 2-20 embryos were removed (dependent on stage) on Day 0 (1 cell), Day 1 (two- and four-cells), Day 4 (compact morulae) and Day 6 (blastocysts) and placed in 4 mul NCSU-23aa for 24 h. After incubation, the embryos were removed and the spent media was analysed by HPLC. The net rate of amino acid depletion or appearance varied according to amino acid (P < 0.001) and, apart from serine and histidine, stage of development (P < 0.014). Glycine, isoleucine, valine, phenylalanine, tryptophan, methionine, asparagine, lysine, glutamate and aspartate consistently appeared, whereas threonine, glutamine and arginine were consistently depleted. Five types of stage-dependent trends could be observed: Type I: amino acids having high rates of net appearance on Day 0 that reached a nadir on Day 1 or 4 but subsequently increased by Day 6 (glycine, glutamate); Type II: those that exhibited lower rates of net appearance on Days 0 and 6 compared with the intermediate Days 1 and 4 (isoleucine, valine, phenylalanine, methionine, arginine); Type III: amino acids which showed a continuous fall in net appearance (asparagine, aspartate); Type IV: those that exhibited a steady fall in net depletion from Day 0 to Day 6 (glutamine, threonine); Type V: those following no discernable trend. Analysis of further embryo types indicated that presumptive polyspermic embryos on Day 0 had increased (P < 0.05) net rates of leucine, isoleucine, valine and glutamate appearance, and reduced (P < 0.05) net rates of threonine and glutamine depletion compared with normally inseminated oocytes. These data suggest that the net rates of depletion and uptake of amino acids by pig embryos vary between a) amino acids, b) the day of embryo development and, c) the type of embryos present at a given stage of development. The results also suggested that the net depletion and appearance rates of amino acids by early pig embryos might be more similar to those of the human than those of the mouse and cow.

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