Disruption of bovine oocytes and preimplantation embryos by urea and acidic pH.

Department of Animal Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, 32611-0910, USA.
Journal of Dairy Science (Impact Factor: 2.55). 05/2003; 86(4):1194-200. DOI: 10.3168/jds.S0022-0302(03)73703-5
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Feeding cattle diets high in degradable crude protein (CP) or in excess of requirements can reduce fertility and lower uterine pH. Objectives were to determine direct effects of urea and acidic pH during oocyte maturation and embryonic development. For experiment 1, oocytes were matured in medium containing 0, 5, 7.5, or 10 mM urea (0, 14, 21, or 28 mg/dl urea nitrogen, respectively). Cleavage rate was not reduced by any concentration of urea. However, the proportion of oocytes developing to the blastocyst stage at d 8 after insemination was reduced by 7.5 mM urea. In addition, the proportion of cleaved oocytes becoming blastocysts was decreased by 5 and 7.5 mM urea. For experiment 2, putative zygotes were collected -9 h after insemination and cultured in modified Potassium Simplex Optimized Medium (KSOM). Urea did not reduce the proportion of oocytes developing to the blastocyst stage, although 10 mM urea reduced cleavage rate slightly. For experiment 3, dimethadione (DMD), a weak nonmetabolizable acid, was used to decrease culture medium pH. Putative zygotes were cultured in modified KSOM containing 0, 10, 15, or 20 mM DMD for 8 d. DMD reduced cleavage rate at 15 and 20 mM and development to the blastocyst stage at all concentrations. Results support the idea that feeding diets rich in highly degradable CP compromises fertility through direct actions of urea on the oocyte and through diet-induced alterations in uterine pH.

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