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J Reprod Dev. 2007 Jun;53(3):605-14. Epub 2007 Feb 27.

Effects of purple sweet potato anthocyanins on development and intracellular redox status of bovine preimplantation embryos exposed to heat shock.

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  • 1National Agricultural Research Center for Kyushu Okinawa Region, Japan.


The development of cleavage stage preimplantation embryos is disrupted by exposure to heat shock, such as high temperatures in the summer season. In this study, we investigated whether addition of anthocyanins, which are strong scavengers of reactive oxygen species (ROS), improves development and intracellular redox status of heat-exposed bovine preimplantation embryos by reduction of heat shock-derived oxidative stress. After in vitro fertilization (IVF), embryos were cultured at 38.5 C through Day 8 (Day 0=day of IVF) with 0, 0.1, 1 and 10 microg/ml anthocyanins (non-heat-shocked group). On Day 2, embryos were cultured at 41.5 C for 6 h with 0, 0.1, 1 and 10 microg/ml anthocyanins followed by culture at 38.5 C until Day 8 (HS group). After exposure to heat shock, the intracellular ROS and glutathione (GSH) contents of individual embryos were measured in the non-heat-shocked and HS groups using fluorescent probes. On Day 8, the blastocysts formation rates of the embryos and total cell numbers of blastocysts were evaluated. Embryos exposed to heat shock without anthocyanins showed a significant decrease in blastocyst formation rate and GSH content (P<0.05) and an increase in intracellular ROS (P<0.05) compared with non-heat-shocked embryos. In contrast, addition of 0.1 microg/ml anthocyanins significantly (P<0.05) improved the blastocyst formation rate of the heat-shocked embryos. Addition of any dose of anthocyanins produced a significant decrease in the ROS levels (P<0.05) and tended to increase the GSH levels under heat-shock conditions. However, addition of higher concentrations (1 and 10 microg/ml) of anthocyanins to the culture media under heat shock did not improve the development of embryos. These results indicate that anthocyanins maintain the intracellular redox balance of heat-shocked bovine embryos by reducing intracellular oxidative stress and increasing the GSH levels. Thus, alterations of the redox state using natural antioxidative polyphenols is a useful approach for reducing heat shock-derived oxidative stress.

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