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    ABSTRACT: Coxiella burnetii, an obligate intracellular bacterium of worldwide distribution, is responsible for Q fever. Domestic ruminants are the main sources of infection for humans. In cattle, infection is frequently asymptomatic, but it may cause abortion, reproductive failure (metritis, placentitis, and infertility), and economic losses. A previous study in goats showed that Coxiella burnetii had a strong tendency to cling to the zona pellucida (ZP) after in vitro infection and the washing procedure recommended by IETS for bovine embryos failed to remove it (Alsaleh et al. 2013 Theriogenology). The aims of this study were to determine (1) whether Coxiella burnetii would adhere to the intact ZP (ZP-intact) of early in vitro-produced bovine embryos, (2) whether the bacteria would adhere to or infect the embryo cells (ZP-free) after in vitro infection, and (3) the efficiency of the washing protocol recommended by the IETS. One hundred and sixty 8- to 16-cell bovine embryos produced in vitro were randomly divided into 16 batches of 10 embryos each. Twelve batches (8 ZP-intact and 4 ZP-free) were incubated in medium containing C. burnetii CbB1 (IASP, INRA Tours, France). After 18h of incubation at 37°C and 5% CO2 in air, the embryos were washed in 10 successive baths of a phosphate buffer saline (PBS) and 5% FCS solution in accordance with the IETS guidelines. In parallel, 4 batches (2 ZP-intact and 2 ZP-free) were subjected to similar procedures but without exposure to C. burnetii to act as controls. The 10 washing fluids for all batches were collected and centrifuged for 1h at 13000×g. Embryo and pellet washing were tested by C-PCR. Coxiella burnetii DNA was found in all ZP-intact and ZP-free embryo batches after 10 successive washes. It was also detected in the first 4 washing fluids for ZP-intact embryos and in the 10th washing fluid for 2 of the 4 batches of ZP-free embryos. In contrast, none of the embryos or their washing fluids in the control batches were DNA positive. These results demonstrate that C. burnetii adhere and (or) penetrate the early embryonic cells as well as the ZP of in vitro bovine embryos after in vitro infection and the standard washing protocol recommended by the IETS for bovine embryos failed to remove it. The persistence of these bacteria after washing makes the embryo a potential means of transmission of the bacterium during embryo transfer from infected donor cows to healthy recipients or their offspring, or both. Further studies are needed to investigate whether enzymatic or antibiotic treatment of bovine embryos infected by C. burnetii would eliminate the bacteria from the ZP.
    Reproduction Fertility and Development 12/2013; 26(1):165.
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    ABSTRACT: In the majority of media for embryo culture, 2 of typical components used are FCS or BSA; however, the presence of FCS in the culture medium has been shown to have a negative effect on embryo quality and the use of animal-derived proteins in culture media increases the risks of disease transmission through in vitro embryo production. The aim of this study was to develop an in vitro embryo culture medium free from FCS and BSA, but with the addition of various growth factors and cytokines (GF-CYK: IGF-I, IGF-II, bFGF, LIF, GM-CSF) 50ngmL(-1) and (TGF-β1) 100ngmL(-1) supplemented with hyaluronan (HA) and recombinant albumin (RA). Bovine oocytes (n=1043, 6 replicates) from abattoir ovaries were matured in TCM-199 medium with 60μgmL(-1) penicillin, 60μgmL(-1) streptomycin, and 10ngmL(-1) EGF for 24h at 39°C and 5% CO2 in humidified air. Afterward, the oocytes were fertilized in IVF-TALP medium with 6mgmL(-1) fatty acid-free BSA and 1.7IUmL(-1) heparin for 18h under the same conditions. After fertilization, presumptive zygotes were divided into two groups and cultured in 30μL droplets of SOF supplemented with (1) 0.4% BSA+5μgmL(-1) insulin, 5μgmL(-1) transferrin, and 5ngmL(-1) selenium (ITS) as a control; or (2) GF-CYK+0.5mgmL(-1) HA+0.15% RA (M1). Droplets were preserved under mineral oil in a humidified atmosphere of 5% CO2, 5% O2, and 90% N2 at 39°C. Blastocyst development and blastocyst diameter was observed at 7 and 8 days post-fertilization (dpf). Developmental and diameter data were analysed using the Wilcoxon test by using R software. The blastocyst rates were not significantly different between the control and M1 medium: at 7dpf (22.9%±4.8 and 30.2%±3.0), and at 8dpf (29.6%±5.1 and 37.4%±2.0 respectively; P>0.05). The blastocyst diameter obtained with the M1 medium was significantly greater (P<0.05) than that of the control at 7dpf (173.3μm±4.9 and 157.2μm±4.1, respectively); however, no significant differences were observed at 8dpf (190.3μm±5.2 and 179.7μm±5.3, respectively). In conclusion, the FCS- and BSA-free medium with GF-CYK, HA, and RA (M1) showed a comparable development rate to the control medium at 7 and 8 dpf. These growth factors and cytokines in association with hyaluronan and recombinant albumin have a synergistic action by promoting an increase in the blastocyst diameter at 7 dpf. This is fully synthetic method of embryo culture; it presents a valuable tool to reduce the risks of disease transmission via embryo transfer.
    Reproduction Fertility and Development 12/2013; 26(1):154.
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to determine the best concentration of low-density lipoproteins (LDL) in a semen extender to improve the percentage of motile spermatozoa in equine sperm after freezing and thawing in comparison with standard extenders. Ten extenders were compared: 1 with 2% egg yolk (EY), 8 with different concentrations of LDL (0.25%, 0.50%, 0.75%, 1%, 2%, 3%, 4%, and 5%), and INRA 96; all of the extenders contained 2.5% glycerol. Fourteen ejaculates were collected from four different stallions. The first dilution was made with equal parts at +37°C, centrifuged (600 × g/10 min), and resuspended in the corresponding extenders to obtain a final concentration of 100 × 106 spermatozoa/ml. The resulting mixture was cooled to 4°C over 1 hour, packed into four 0.5-ml straws, and left for a further 30 minutes at +4°C. Finally, the straws were frozen in nitrogen vapors 4 cm over liquid nitrogen for 10 minutes before being immersed in liquid nitrogen at −196°C and stored. Two straws per extender and per ejaculate were thawed in a water bath at +37°C for 30 seconds. The contents of each straw were recovered into a cryotube and placed in a water bath at +37°C for 10 minutes before being examined with an image analyzer. The best post-thaw motility results were obtained with the extenders made with 0.5%, 2%, and 3% LDL and with the control extender made with egg yolk; no significant difference was observed between these extenders. The last two straws were thawed to perform four sperm function tests. The hypo-osmotic test was used to assess the integrity of the plasma membrane; the 2% and 3% LDL treatments were the most suitable and were comparable to that with whole egg yolk for protecting stallion sperm during cryopreservation (32.3%, 32.4%, and 31.3%, respectively). The Pisum sativum agglutinin-fluorescein isothiocyanate test was used to verify the integrity of the acrosomes; the best results were obtained with the 0.5%, 0.75%, and 3% LDL and INRA96 extenders; no significant differences were observed among the 85.8%, 85.0%, 84.7%, and 84.8% extenders. The acridine orange test was used to assess DNA integrity; there were no significant differences among the various extenders: the DNA was preserved in 98% of the spermatozoa. Finally, spermatozoal morphology was examined using Spermac stain; 78% of the spermatozoa did not present any anomalies in the 0.25% and 2% LDL extenders. In conclusion, the 2% LDL extender gave the best post-thaw percentage of motile spermatozoa. The results of the sperm function test were also superior for this extender.
    Journal of Equine Veterinary Science 12/2013;


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