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Theriogenology. 1994;41(6):1241-9.

Development of bovine embryos in a cell-free culture medium: Effects of type of serum, timing of its inclusion and heat inactivation.

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Department of Animal Health and Biomedical Sciences, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706, U.S.A.


Bovine embryos, derived from in vitro matured (IVM)/in vitro fertilized (IVF) ova, were used to investigate the effects of timing of serum inclusion in the culture medium and different types of blood sera and heat inactivation of the serum on embryo development. In Experiment 1, oocytes at 18 h post insemination were allocated to 1 of the following 4 treatments: 1) TCM-199 + 0.1 mg/ml polyvinylalcohol (PVA), 2) TCM-199 supplemented with 10% bovine calf serum (BCS), 3) PVA medium followed by BCS medium at 47 h, or 4) PVA medium followed by BCS medium at 82 h. Supplementation with BCS at 18 h post insemination suppressed (P<0.05) development of morulae/blastocysts (17.6%) when compared with PVA (30.5%) or with serum supplementation at 47 or 82 h post insemination (32.4 and 27.6%, respectively). However, inclusion of BCS at 18, 47 or 82 h post insemination produced more blastocysts (16.8, 29.3 and 22.1%, respectively; P<0.05) than medium +PVA (8.8%). In Experiment 2, ova were cultured from 18 h to 42 h post insemination in PVA-medium, then >/=2-cell embryos were transferred into serum-supplemented medium for another 168 h. Fetal bovine serum (FBS) +/- heat-inactivation (56 degrees C for 30 min, = heated FBS) suppressed morula/blastocyst development compared with medium + PVA, medium + BCS or medium + heated BCS (P<0.05). Bovine calf serum was superior to FBS in supporting blastocyst development (35.1 and 15.2%, respectively), but there was no difference between BCS and heated BCS. However, heated FBS increased the proportion of blastocysts/>/=8-cell embryos compared with that of FBS (51.0 and 31.4%, respectively; P<0.05). These results indicate that the type of serum supplementation and the timing of its inclusion in the culture medium markedly affect bovine embryo development in vitro, and that heat inactivation of serum with high embryotrophic properties is not necessary.

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