In vitro fertilization in pigs: New molecules and protocols to consider in the forthcoming years

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Abstract

Assisted reproduction technology (ART) protocols are used in livestock for the improvement and preservation of their genetics and to enhance reproductive efficiency. In the case of pigs, the potential use of embryos for biomedicine is being followed with great interest by the scientific community. Owing to the physiological similarities with humans, embryos produced in vitro and many of those produced in vivo are used in research laboratories for the procurement of stem cells or the production of transgenic animals, sometimes with the purpose of using their organs for xenotransplantation. Several techniques are required for the production of an in vitro-derived embryo. These include in vitro oocyte maturation, sperm preparation, IVF, and further culture of the putative zygotes. Without doubt, among these technologies, IVF is still a critical limiting factor because of the well-known, but still unsolved, question of polyspermy. Despite the improvements made in the past decade, current IVF systems hardly reach 50% to 60% efficiency and any progression in porcine ARTs requires an unavoidable improvement in the monospermy rate. It is time, then, to learn from what happens under in vivo physiological conditions and to transfer this knowledge into ART. This review describes the latest advances in porcine IVF, from sperm preparation procedures to culture media supplements with special attention paid to molecules with a known or potential role in in vivo fertilization. Oviductal fluid is the natural medium in which fertilization takes place, and, in the near future, could become the definitive supplement for culture media, where it would help to solve many of the problems inherent in ARTs in swine and improve the quality of in vitro-derived porcine embryos.

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Romar, R., Funahashi, H., & Coy, P. (2016). In vitro fertilization in pigs: New molecules and protocols to consider in the forthcoming years. Theriogenology, 85(1), 125–134. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.theriogenology.2015.07.017

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