Factors affecting survival rates of in vitro produced bovine embryos after vitrification and direct in-straw rehydration

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The aim of this work was to investigate the possibilities of simplification, and to outline the limits of application, of a vitrification method for cow embryos. Morulae and blastocysts were produced by in vitro fertilization of slaughterhouse-derived, in vitro matured oocytes with frozen-thawed bull semen, and subsequent culture on a granulosa cell monolayer. Vitrification was performed by equilibration of embryos with 12.5% ethylene glycol and 12.5% dimethylsulphoxide at 20-22°C for 60 s, then with 25% ethylene glycol and 25% dimethylsulphoxide at 4°C for another 60 s. Embryos were then loaded in straws, placed in liquid nitrogen vapour for 2 min, and then plunged. Straws were thawed in a 22°C water-bath, the embryos were directly rehydrated and further incubated in straw, and were then expelled and cultured in vitro for 72 h. In the first experiment, embryos of different age and developmental stage (Day 5 compacted morulae, Day 6 early blastocysts, Days 6 and 7 blastocysts, Day 7 expanded blastocysts and Day 8 hatched blastocysts) as well as Days 7 and 5 blastocysts previously subjected to partial zona dissection were vitrified. After thawing, the re-expansion rates of blastocysts and zona-dissected embryos did not differ (67 and 87%, respectively), and hatching was more frequent for blastocysts frozen in advanced developmental stages (34, 47 and 63% for early blastocysts, blastocysts and expanded blastocysts, respectively). The re-expansion rate of morulae was lower (10%) and no hatching of these embryos was observed. In the second experiment, Day 7 expanded blastocysts were vitrified using PBS, PBS + albumin, TCM199 and TCM 199 + calf serum as holding media. No differences in re-expansion and hatching rates were seen. However, when incubation with the concentrated cryoprotectant solution was performed at 20-22°C, the embryo survival rate decreased (PBS + albumin) or no embryo survived (TCMI99 + calf serum) the vitrification procedure. In the third experiment, Day 7 expanded blastocysts were vitrified, thawed, cultured for 1 day, and then re-expanded embryos were again vitrified and thawed. Out of the 87% that survived the first cycle. 73% re-expanded and 47% hatched following the second vitrification and thawing. These observations prove that the vitrification procedure described is relatively harmless, that it can be used for blastocysts of different developmental stages and that an intact zona is not required to obtain high survival rates.




Vajta, G., Holm, P., Greve, T., & Callesen, H. (1996). Factors affecting survival rates of in vitro produced bovine embryos after vitrification and direct in-straw rehydration. Animal Reproduction Science, 45(3), 191–200. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0378-4320(96)01583-7

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