Successful cryopreservation is essential for a large-scale dispersal of bovine in vitro produced (IVP) embryos that have been shown to be more sensitive to cryopreservation than their in vivo counterparts. On the other hand, the use of animal proteins in freezing media increases sanitary risks. We first replaced animal proteins, such as bovine serum albumin (BSA) in the freezing medium by plant-derived peptides (vegetal peptones). A batch of wheat peptones was selected after a preliminary experiment showing the absence of toxicity of concentrations<18 mg/mL on in vitro bovine blastocysts. Increasing concentrations of peptones were then added in the freezing medium. The surviving and hatching rates were not affected by comparison with those observed with BSA. No significant difference was observed between groups either for the total number of cells or for the ratio ICM/Total cell, nor for the rate of apoptosis in surviving embryos. When embryos were cryopreserved in 1.8 mg/mL peptone, the hatching rate and embryo quality as assessed at 48 h post-thawing were not significantly different from those of unfrozen embryos. In a second experiment two additives were added in this animal protein-free freezing medium containing 1.8 mg/mL peptones. No beneficial effect of adding 1 mg/mL sodium hyaluronate or 100 microM beta-mercaptoethanol was observed on embryo survival or quality. In conclusion, we have demonstrated that vegetal peptones can replace BSA in freezing media without affecting blastocyst survival and quality.
"Reduction of post thaw viability is associated with the abnormal quantity of LD in blastomeres because they contribute to the occurrence of cryofractures during the freezing process    . For this reason, several approaches such as embryo micromanipulation and modifications of culture media, have been used to reduce or to remove LD from in vitroderived embryos     . In this context, presence of fetal calf serum (FCS) and high oxygen tension (e.g., 20%) during in vitro culture (IVC) increases the number and size of LD, decreasing freeze-thawing resistance  , and low oxygen tension and absence of FCS during IVC generates embryos more resistant to cryopreservation, similar to those produced in vivo  . "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In vitro-produced embryos store high lipid content in cytoplasmic lipid droplets (LD), and reduction or removal of LD has been demonstrated to improve freeze-thaw viability. The Perilipin Adipophilin Tail-interacting Protein of 47 kD (PAT) family of proteins is involved in the formation and regulation of LD in many cell types, but their presence has not been addressed either in cattle oocytes or preimplantation embryos. Therefore, this study aimed to detect the expression of PAT family transcripts (Perilipin-2 [PLIN2] and Perilipin-3 [PLIN3]) in immature and in vitro-matured (IVM) oocytes, and in in vitro-produced embryos at the stages of two to four cells, eight to 16 cells, morulae (MO), and blastocyst (BL). The expression of PLIN3 was downregulated in response to IVM, and PLIN2 was comparatively more expressed than PLIN3 in IVM oocytes (P < 0.001). During the early stages of embryo development, PLIN2 expression reached its peak at the MO stage (P < 0.001) and decreased again at the BL stage. In contrast, PLIN3 was expressed in low levels during the earliest stages of development, slightly upregulated at the MO stage (P < 0.05), and greatly increased its expression at the BL stage (15-fold; P < 0.001). PLIN3 was comparatively more expressed than PLIN2 during embryo culture in most stages analyzed (P < 0.05), except in eight- to 16-cell embryos. These results indicate that PLIN2 might be involved in the maintenance of lipid stocks necessary to support embryo development after fertilization of IVM oocytes. Also, we hypothesize that PLIN3 is the main PAT protein responsible for stabilization of LD formed in consequence of the acute lipid load seen during embryo development. We confirmed the presence of both PLIN2 and PLIN3 proteins in BL at Day 7 using immunocytochemistry: these PAT proteins colocalized with LD stained with BODIPY. PLIN3 seemed to be more ubiquitously spread out in the cytoplasm than PLIN2, consistent with the pattern seen in adipocytes. These findings suggest that both elderly (bigger) and newly formed (smaller) LD, positive for PLIN2 and PLIN3 respectively, coexist in blastocysts. To our knowledge this is the first report showing that transcripts of the PAT family are present in cattle oocytes and embryos.
"Otherwise, the embryo survival rate and embryo hatching rate obtained with the CRYO3 solution were significantly higher than those obtained with FCS and BSA solutions. The rates were also similar to those reported with IVP expanded blastocysts in recent studies   . We therefore consider that CRYO3 improves the cryopreservation of IVP bovine embryos from a biological point of view Table 2 Embryo survival rates and embryo hatching rates after in vitro culture of frozen/thawed IVP* bovine embryos. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study evaluates a new synthetic substitute (CRYO3, Ref. 5617, Stem Alpha, France) for animal-based products in bovine embryo cryopreservation solutions. During the experiment, fetal calf serum (FCS) and bovine serum albumin (BSA) were used as references. A combination of a thermodynamic approach using differential scanning calorimetry and a biological approach using in vitro-produced bovine embryo slow-freezing was used to characterize cryopreservation solutions containing CRYO3, FCS and BSA. The CRYO3 and fetal calf serum (FCS) slow-freezing solutions were made from Dulbecco's phosphate-buffered saline containing 1.5 m ethylene glycol, 0.1 m sucrose and 20% (v.v(-1)) of CRYO3 or FCS. The bovine serum albumin (BSA) solution was made by adding 0.1 m sucrose to a commercial solution containing 1.5 m ethylene glycol and 4 g L(-1) BSA. These solutions were evaluated using three characteristics: the end of melting temperature, the enthalpy of crystallization (thermodynamic approach) and the embryo survival and hatching rates after in vitro culture (biological approach). The CRYO3 and FCS solutions had similar thermodynamic properties. In contrast, the thermodynamic characteristics of the BSA solution were different from those of the FCS and CRYO3 solutions. Nevertheless, the embryo survival and hatching rates obtained with the BSA and FCS solutions were not different. Similar biological properties can thus be obtained with slow freezing solutions that have different physical properties within a defined range. The embryo survival rate after 48 h of in vitro culture obtained with the CRYO3 solution (81.5%) was higher than that obtained with the BSA (42.2%, P = 0.000 12) and FCS solutions (58%, P = 0.016). Similarly, the embryo hatching rate after 72 h of in vitro culture was higher with the CRYO3 solution (61.1%) than with the BSA (31.1%, P = 0.0055) and FCS solutions (36%, P = 0.018). We conclude that CRYO3 can be used as a chemically defined substitute for animal-based products in in vitro-produced bovine embryo cryopreservation solutions.
"The basic freezing medium consisted of SOF containing 4.8 mg/ml Hepes (Hepes-SOF) supplemented with 1.5 M ethylene glycol, 0.1 M sucrose, a mixture of 5 mg/ml insulin, 5 mg/ml transferring, 5 ng/ ml selenium and 1.8 mg/ml of wheat peptones (Quest int, Zwijndrecht, The Netherlands ). Expanded embryos were collected on day-7 post-insemination (pi). "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: It is well known that serum in culture medium negatively affects blastocyst quality. The objective of this work was to develop and test a serum-free culture medium which could improve embryo quality, measured by the resistance to freezing, lipid and glutathione content of the resulting blastocysts, as well as the ability of the blastocysts to elongate after transient transfer to recipient cows. In a first experiment we showed that adding a mixture of insulin, transferrin and selenium to serum-free Synthetic Oviduct Fluid medium (SOF-ITS) improved embryo development and quality. In the second experiment, the addition of BSA to SOF-ITS further improved blastocyst development. Moreover, a reduction in lipid content of morulae was observed in SOF-ITS-BSA by comparison with morulae cultured with serum (SOF-FCS). The resistance to freezing measured by hatching rates 24h post-thawing was also improved for blastocysts with a diameter between 160 and 180 microm cultured in SOF-ITS-BSA by comparison to those produced with serum. In order to evaluate the redox potential of the embryos, reduced glutathione content (GSH) was evaluated both before and after cryopreservation. A significant decrease in glutathione was observed after freezing, whatever the culture medium, but no difference was observed between culture conditions. Transient transfers were performed and elongated D-13 embryos were recovered. Elongation was more pronounced and the embryonic disk more often visible in embryos cultured in SOF-ITS-BSA than in embryos cultured with FCS. In conclusion, the serum-free system we developed to produce in vitro bovine embryos meets the developmental and qualitative requirements for a large-scale use.
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