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Theriogenology. 2013 Mar 1;79(4):599-609. doi: 10.1016/j.theriogenology.2012.11.012. Epub 2012 Dec 20.

Quantification, morphology, and viability of equine preantral follicles obtained via the Biopsy Pick-Up method.

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Department of Animal Science, Food and Nutrition, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois, USA.


A Biopsy Pick-Up (BPU) method was tested to determine the feasibility of retrieving preantral follicles from mare ovaries in vivo. A total of 33 ovarian biopsy procedures were performed on 18 mares during the breeding season. Mares were 5 to 21 years old and biopsies were performed during the estrous and/or diestrous phase, as confirmed by transrectal ultrasonography. Follicles were mechanically isolated using a tissue chopper, counted, and classified as normal or abnormal and primordial or primary. Viability of isolated follicles was determined by Trypan Blue dye. A total of 256 biopsy attempts were made resulting in 185 successful tissue sample collections (72% success rate). The mean weight of ovarian tissue collected per procedure was 25.0 ± 1.6 mg. Overall, 620 preantral follicles were collected and isolated (95% primordial and 5% primary). The mean (±SEM) number of follicles isolated per biopsy procedure was 18.8 ± 1.9. Primordial and primary follicles had an average diameter of 31.3 ± 6.2 and 41.1 ± 6.6 μm, respectively. Viability rate was higher (P < 0.001) for primordial follicles (91%) compared with primary follicles (50%). Primordial follicles tended (P < 0.06) to have a higher rate of morphological normality (96%) compared with primary follicles (80%). The total number of follicles isolated, amount of tissue harvested, and number of follicles per mg of tissue did not differ (P > 0.05) according to phase of the estrous cycle. Younger mares (5 to 7 years old) had more (P < 0.05) follicles isolated per procedure than older mares (14 to 21 years old). The length of the interovulatory interval was not affected (P > 0.05) by any biopsy procedure, and there were no adverse effects on cyclicity or general reproductive health. In conclusion, the BPU method provided large numbers of normal and viable preantral follicles for the study of early follicular development in mares. The BPU method might be used in the future to obtain preantral follicles for in vitro culture to enable the use of numerous oocytes present within the equine ovary. This could allow for the preservation of genetic material or large-scale embryo production.

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