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Theriogenology. 2004 Oct 1;62(7):1186-97.

Effects of oxygen concentration and antioxidants on the in vitro developmental ability, production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), and DNA fragmentation in porcine embryos.

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Laboratory of Animal Breeding and Reproduction, Graduate School of Agriculture, Hokkaido University, Sapporo 060-8589, Japan.


After in vitro maturation and fertilization of porcine oocytes, the fertilized embryos were cultured under 5 or 20% oxygen (O2) for 7 days. In embryos cultured under 5% O2 versus 20% O2, development to the blastocyst stage was higher (36.3% versus 22.5%, P < 0.05); the hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) content as a reactive oxygen species was lower (92 pixels versus 111 pixels, P < 0.05); and fragmentation of DNA in 8- to 16-cell stage embryos (estimated by the comet assay) resulted in a shorter (P < 0.05) DNA tail (36 microm versus 141 microm). Antioxidants such as beta-mercaptoethanol (beta-ME) and Vitamin-E (Vit-E) suppressed oxidative damage in the embryos and improved their developmental ability. For embryos cultured under 20% O2, there were the following differences (P < 0.05) between embryos exposed to 0 microM versus 50 microM beta-ME: 28% versus 57% developed to the blastocyst stage; 125 pixels versus 98 pixels per embryo in H2O2 content; and a DNA tail of 209 microm versus 105 microm. In addition, for embryos cultured under 20% O2, there were also differences (P < 0.05) between those exposed to 0 microM versus 50 microM of Vit-E: 28% versus 40% rate of development to the blastocyst stage; 28.9 cells versus 35.9 cells in the expanded blastocyst; 122 pixels versus 95 pixels per embryo (H2O2 content); and 215 microm versus 97 microm length of the DNA tail. Therefore, a low O2 concentration during in vitro culture of porcine embryos decreased the H2O2 content and, as a consequence, reduced DNA fragmentation, and, thereby, improved developmental ability.

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