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Theriogenology. 2007 Jan 1;67(1):142-51. Epub 2006 Oct 25.

How healthy are clones and their progeny: 5 years of field experience.

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Goyaike SAACI Y F Biotechnology Area, Ea San Joaquín CC (37), Carmen de Areco CP (6725), Buenos Aires, Argentina.


There is considerable concern regarding the health of cloned cattle and their safety as a source of food. The objective was to summarize 5 years of commercial experience with cloning in three countries (United States, Argentina and Brazil). Overall, only 9% of transferred embryos resulted in calves; efficiency ranged from 0 to 45% (most were from 1 to 10%, but 24% of cell lines never produced live calves). There was no significant difference in pregnancy rate following transfer of one versus two embryos. Before 90 days of gestation, two ultrasound markers for embryo death were found, either crown rump length (CRL) or heart beat less than 7.5mm and 150bpm, respectively, were observed alone or together in 27% of clones that died. In addition, after 100 days of pregnancy, placental edema, hydrops fetalis and increased abdominal circumference size were used as ultrasound findings of a fetus at risk of loss. At 114 days of gestation, abdominal circumference in clones that died was statistically larger than in clones that survived alive to term and from MOET- and IVF-derived pregnancies (P<0.05). Since elective cesarean section (C-section) was partially replaced by natural or assisted parturition, C-section rates decreased from 100% in 2000 to 54% in 2005. On average, 42% of cloned calves died between delivery and 150 days of life; the most common abnormalities were: enlarged umbilical cord (37%), respiratory problems (19%), calves depressed/prolonged recumbency (20%) and contracted flexor tendons (21%). From 11 blood parameters evaluated during the first week of life, lactate decreased twice and glucose doubled its original value from 24h to 7 days. Adult cloned females had normal breeding and calving rates and cloned bulls produced good quality semen and had normal fertility when used for AI or natural mating. In conclusion, cloning had no risks qualitatively different from those encountered in animals involved in modern agricultural practices, although the frequency of the risks appeared to be increased in cattle during the early portions of the life cycle of cattle clones.

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