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Reproduction. 2009 Apr;137(4):679-87. doi: 10.1530/REP-08-0405. Epub 2009 Jan 19.

Effects of oviductal fluid on the development, quality, and gene expression of porcine blastocysts produced in vitro.

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  • 1Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, Regent's Park, London, UK.

Abstract

In mammals, fertilization and early pre-implantation development occur in the oviduct. Previous results obtained in our laboratory have identified specific molecules in the oviduct that affect porcine sperm-egg interactions. The aim of the present study was to determine whether the contact between oocytes and oviductal fluid also affect embryo development, quality, and gene expression. In vitro matured porcine oocytes were exposed to bovine oviductal fluid (bOF) for 30 min prior to fertilization. Cleavage and blastocyst development rates were significantly higher from bOF-treated oocytes than from untreated oocytes. Blastocysts obtained from bOF-treated oocytes had significantly greater total cell numbers than those obtained from untreated oocytes. Using real-time PCR, grade 1 (very good morphological quality) and grade 2 (good morphological quality) blastocysts were analyzed for gene transcripts related to apoptosis (BAX, BCL2L1), mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) transcription/replication (POLG, POLG2, and TFAM), blastomere connection and morula compaction (GJA1), and blastocyst formation and pluripotency (POU5F1). We found that the entire set of genes analyzed was differentially expressed between grade 1 and 2 blastocysts. Furthermore, bOF treatment reduced the ratio of BAX to BCL2L1 transcripts and enhanced the abundance of TFAM transcripts in grade 2 blastocysts. Not only do these findings demonstrate that factors within the bOF act on porcine oocytes both quickly and positively, but they also suggest that such factors could promote embryo development and quality by protecting them against adverse impacts on mtDNA transcription/replication and apoptosis induced by the culture environment.

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