Histological staining and counting of blastocyst inner cell mass (ICM) and trophectoderm (TE) cells differentially with chromatin-specific dyes is a more accurate indicator of cultured blastocyst quality and normality than total cell number assessment. The aim of this study was to test the effectiveness of a simplified method of chemically-defined differential blastocyst staining. The TE of cultured mouse and bovine blastocysts of different developmental stages was stained when blastocysts were treated with a permeabilizing solution containing the ionic detergent Triton X-100 and the fluorochrome propidium iodide. Blastocysts were then incubated in a second solution containing 100% ethanol (for fixation) and the secondary fluorochrome bisbenzimide. Fixed and stained whole blastocysts were mounted and assessed for cell number using ultraviolet fluorescent microscopy. Using this method, in-vitro cultured mouse blastocysts (day 4.5) were shown to have an ICM:TE ratio of 1:2.63 with an average total cell count of 75.3 ± 3. While day 7 and 8 in-vitro produced bovine blastocysts were shown to have an ICM:TE ratio of 1:3.42 and 1:3.36 with an average total cell count of 151.3 ± 5.48 and 217.8 ± 8.75 respectively. Blastocyst staining patterns indicate that this modified technique represents a simple and reliable alternative to current bichromatic blastocyst staining techniques for the differential assessment of cell numbers and may be useful for the assessment of blastocysts derived from in-vitro maturation, novel culture systems and advanced reproductive technologies such as cloning.
Thouas, G. A., Korfiatis, N. A., French, A. J., Jones, G. M., & Trounson, A. O. (2001). Simplified technique for differential staining of inner cell mass and trophectoderm cells of mouse and bovine blastocysts. Reproductive BioMedicine Online, 3(1), 25–29. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1472-6483(10)61960-8