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Zygote. 2013 May;21(2):139-50. doi: 10.1017/S0967199412000470. Epub 2012 Nov 22.

The combined treatment of calcium ionophore with strontium improves the quality of ovine SCNT embryo development.

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Developmental Epigenetics Laboratory, Department of Animal Science, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA.


Poor embryo quality is a major problem that contributes to the failure of pregnancy in somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). The aims of this study were to improve the quality of ovine SCNT embryos by modifying the conventional activation protocol with the addition of SrCl2. In order to achieve this objective we conducted a series of experiments with in vitro-matured oocytes to optimize conditions for oocyte activation with strontium, and subsequently applied the protocol to SCNT embryos. The results showed that in vitro-matured oocytes could be activated effectively by 10 mM SrCl2 + 5 mg/ml cytochalasin B (CB) for 5 h in the absence of Ca2+ and that the blastocyst rate on day 7 (33.2%) was similar to that in the control group (31.0%) (5 M calcium ionophore [IP] A23187 for 5 min and cultured in CB/cycloheximide [CHX] for 5 h; P > 0.05). In SCNT experiments, the total cell number/blastocyst (104.12 ± 6.86) in the IP + SrCl2/CB-treatment group was, however, significantly higher than that in the control group (81.07 ± 3.39; P < 0.05). Apoptotic index (12.29 ± 1.22%) was significantly lower than the control (17.60 ± 1.39%; P < 0.05) when a combination of IP and SrCl2/CB was applied to SCNT embryos. In addition, karyotyping of the SCNT embryos showed that the percentage of diploid blastocysts in the IP + SrCl2/CB-treatment group was slightly higher than that in the control (P > 0.05). We conclude that the modified activation protocol with IP + SrCl2/CB can improve significantly the quality of ovine SCNT embryos in terms of total cell number, apoptosis and ploidy.

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