Article

Achievements and unmet promises of assisted reproduction technologies in large animals: A personal perspective

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Abstract

This paper gives an overview of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) in livestock species coming from the author's direct experience and contribution to the development of several of them. The assessment is conducted on the basis of the progress achieved since the early eighties and the impact on the clinical/practical use of such procedures. Artificial insemination (AI) is still the leading technology used on a large scale in livestock with most favourable cost benefit ratio. All the other ARTs have niche applications compared to AI. Significant progress has been achieved in embryo culture, somatic cell nuclear transfer and on the identification of the many unknown variables affecting the success rate, while in areas such as superovulation, oocyte maturation, IVF, embryonic stem cells and cryopreservation progress has been limited or absent. It is the opinion of the author that ARTs have reached a plateau whereby only minimal improvement of efficiency can be achieved. Significant advances can only come from major breakthrough in the understanding of the underlying biological mechanisms.

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... Созревание ооцита in vivo происходит при непосредственном участии структурных элементов фолликула, содержащихся в фолликулярной жидкости [3,4,6]. Клетки гранулезы широко используются в системах дозревания ооцитов коров, а также в технологиях клонирования и трансгенеза [8,13]. Цель настоящего исследования -проанализировать деструктивные изменения клеток гранулезы в овариальных фолликулах коров (Ø 3-5 мм), содержащих растущие (ВСВ -) или завершившие фазу роста ооциты (ВСВ + ). ...
... Этот процесс отвечает за развитие доминантного фолликула и желтого тела, фолликулярную атрезию и овуляцию [2,7]. Мониторинг деструктивных изменений гранулезных клеток овариальных фолликулов может явиться ключевым моментом в изучении механизмов формирования полноценной яйцеклетки [8,13]. ...
... Oocyte maturation in vivo occurs with the participation of structural follicle elements and follicular fluid [3,4,6]. Granulosa cells are widely used in bovine oocyte maturation systems and used in cloning and transgenesis technologies [8,13]. Purpose of this study: to perform destructive changes granulosa cells in ovarian follicles of bovines (Ø 3-5 mm),which contain growing(ВСВ -) or completed the growth phase of oocytes (ВСВ + ). ...
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... Despite the potential advances offered by in vitro embryo production (IVP) systems, the percentage of success in cow remained stunning stable over the last 30 years and is limited to one third of the oocytes isolated from the ovary reaching the blastocyst stage of embryonic development (Lonergan and Fair, 2008;Galli, 2017). In bovine IVP, on a percentage basis, starting from 100 oocytes only about one third become a blastocyst after IVM, IVF and IVC, and only about one third of these embryos are able to produce a born calf (Fig. 1). ...
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The hypothesis that follicle cells play a central role in endowing the oocyte with developmental competence during maturation has been tested in coculture studies. Oocytes and follicle cells in various combinations were cultured for 24 h with gonadotrophins and estrogen in a nonstatic culture system. Developmental competence was assessed by transfer of oocytes to inseminated receipient ewes followed by embryonic examination 12 days later or at parturition. Denuded and corona-enclosed oocytes resume meiosis in culture but remain immature and developmentally incompetent. By contrast, oocytes supported by the cumulus and underlying granulosa (cumulus-oocyte complexes) undergo full maturation and normal subsequent embryonic development (42.6% to embryos). Addition of supplementary follicle cells during culture (5 × 106 cells/ml medium) is without beneficial effect on denuded oocytes. However, supplementary cells confer competence on corona-enclosed oocytes (37% to embryos). A dual cellular requirement for full maturation involving both cell numbers and some direct cell-oocyte contact is highlighted by our experiments. The results demonstrate further that the nonstatic system provides a simple but reliable method of producing large numbers of fully matured oocytes for both research and clinical purposes.
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In the buffalo, the use of embryo-based biotechnologies for breeding and genetic improvement is still very limited because multiple-ovulation embryo transfer delivers poor results compared with cattle and in vitro embryo production has been used mainly for research purposes. At present, very few reports are available on the transfer of in vitro-produced (IVP) and cryopreserved buffalo embryos. Therefore, the scope of this work was to perform a pilot study to evaluate the viability of frozen-thawed IVP embryos by nonsurgical embryo transfer to recipients in an IVF-embryo transfer program on a farm located on the north coast of Colombia, South America. Buffalo oocytes were recovered at the slaughterhouse from selected donors, matured in vitro for 18 to 20h in TCM-199+10% FCS and 0.5 IU of FSH and 0.5 IU of LH in 5% CO(2) at 38.5°C. Four different bulls were used for IVF. After thawing, the semen was separated on a Percoll(®) gradient and then diluted into SOF-IVF media supplemented with 1μgmL(-1) of heparin and phenylalanine. Presumptive zygotes were cultured in modified SOF supplemented with MEM amino acids for 6 days. Half of the medium was replaced on Day 4 and 6. Developing embryos were selected for freezing on Day 6 and 7. Grade 1 embryos were frozen at the blastocyst stage by slow cooling in 10% glycerol or 1.5M ethylene glycol. Recipients (heifers n=79 and uniparous cows n=17) were synchronized using the CIDR-Synch protocol: on Day 0, gonadotropin-releasing hormone was injected and a CIDR was inserted; on Day 7, prostaglandin F(2α) was administered; on Day 9, the CIDR was removed; on Day 11, a second injection of gonadotropin-releasing hormone was given; and on Day 17, the embryo was transferred. Each female received, nonsurgically, 1 or 2 embryos in the ipsilateral horn to the functional corpus luteum evaluated by ultrasonography. Pregnancies were evaluated by ultrasonography 30 days after transfer and confirmed by rectal palpation 30 days later. This work was performed in 2 successive experiments during the breeding seasons (January and December, respectively). Overall, 96 recipients were transferred, with 136 embryos obtaining 23 pregnancies (24.2%). There were no statistical differences in pregnancy rate between heifers and cows (25.3 vs 17.7%) and between single (n=56) and double (n=39) embryo transfers (21.4 vs 27.5%) by chi square test (P>0.05). To date, 4 females and 5 males have been born by spontaneous calving (1 stillborn male due to dystocia), 3 pregnancies have been aborted (13%) and 11 pregnancies are ongoing (>7 months). The pregnancy rate obtained in this study in farm conditions (24.2%) is lower than generally obtained with frozen IVP cattle embryos, but it is still a good result in buffalo, where even conventional AI provides a lower success rate as compared with cattle. Finally, this work demonstrates that in vitro embryo production can be successfully implemented in buffalo breeding programs for the exploitation of superior genetics.
Article
Day 7 cow embryos were frozen in 1.5 M-DMSO in PBS at 0.3 degrees C/min to -36 degrees C and at 0.1 degrees C/min between -36 and -60 degrees C before being plunged directly into liquid nitrogen. They were subsequently thawed (rapidly to -50 degrees C, at 4 degrees C/min from -50 to -10 degrees C, and rapidly again) to room temperature. Embryonic viability was tested by four different transfer techniques. Maximum pregnancy rate (8/12) was obtained with surgical transfer immediately after thawing and dilution of DMSO.
Article
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is a promising assisted-fertilisation technique that may benefit women who have not become pregnant by in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) or subzonal insemination (SUZI) of oocytes. We have used ICSI to treat couples with infertility because of severely impaired sperm characteristics, and in whom IVF and SUZI had failed. Direct injection of a single spermatozoon into the ooplasm was done in 47 metaphase-II oocytes: 38 oocytes remained intact after injection, 31 became fertilised, and 15 embryos were replaced in utero. Four pregnancies occurred after eight treatment cycles--two singleton and one twin pregnancy, and a preclinical abortion. Two healthy boys have been delivered from the singleton pregnancies and a healthy boy and girl from the twin pregnancy.
Article
Since the first successful collection of oocytes by non-surgical puncture, there have been numerous attempts to fertilize them but few segmented embryos have resulted. The latest attempts at follicular puncture (Palmer et al., 1987) provided 159 oocytes. Oocytes found broken (18%) were probably already broken, or at least fragile, before puncture. The 41 oocytes were fertilized only with semen treated with Ionophore A23187. Following ionophore treatment of semen, 16 ova segmented (of 113 inseminated oocytes) indicating fertilization, and another 7 showed signs of fertilization but not segmentation. Our basic protocol, when applied to 60 oocytes, yielded 11 (18%) embryos and 5 (8%) that were fertilized without segmentation. Modifications to the protocol produced no improvement in the results. Eight embryos fertilized in vitro were transferred into the ampulla of 8 recipient mares. One pregnancy resulted and foaling occurred June 14, 1990. This is the first equine pregnancy to continue to full term following in vitro fertilization.
Article
As previously described for the establishment of stable, pluripotent cell lines from pig blastocysts, an analogous cell line was isolated from a sheep blastocyst. There are common features in the morphologies and growth characteristics of the pig and sheep cells in culture; in particular, pig and sheep cells display large nuclei and relatively sparse cytoplasm, as is observed in mouse embryonic stem cells. Furthermore, the morphology of the sheep cells closely resembles that of cells in primary cultures of inner cell masses isolated immunosurgically from sheep blastocysts. This suggests that the sheep cell line represents a primary ectodermal lineage.
Article
Important interactions occur between the somatic cells of the oviduct and the developing embryo, during the later stages of pre-attachment development. In these stages secretions from the oviduct are very important in conferring viability on the embryos, especially plasmatic proteins and proteins secreted by the oviduct cells. The oviduct secretions obtained at various stages of the oestrus cycle have now been tested for potential growth factors. If an active fraction of the oviduct secretion is identified, the potential embryotrophic factor(s) will be characterized and produced on a large scale so that culture medium can be supplemented.
Article
The failure of complex mammalian organs, such as the kidney, to function following freezing to low temperatures is thought to be due largely to mechanical disruption of the intercellular architecture by the formation of extracellular ice. Classical approaches to the avoidance of ice formation through the imposition of ultra-rapid cooling and warming rates or by gradual depression of the equilibrium freezing point during cooling to -80 degrees C have not been adequate. An alternative approach relies on the ability of highly concentrated aqueous solutions of cryoprotective agents to supercool to very low temperatures. At sufficiently low temperatures, these solutions become so viscous that they solidify without the formation of ice, a process termed vitrification. When embryo suspensions are cryopreserved using conventional procedures, this supercooling behaviour allows intracellular vitrification, even in the presence of extracellular ice. We have therefore used mouse embryos to examine the feasibility of obtaining high survival following vitrification of both the intra- and extracellular solutions and report here that in properly controlled conditions embryos seem to survive in high proportions after cryopreservation in the absence of ice.
Article
A repeatable procedure for fertilization of bovine ova in vitro is described. Oocytes were recovered from ovarian follicles or from oviducts near the time of ovulation following treatment of donors with pregnant mare's serum gonadotropin (PMSG) and prostaglandin F2 alpha (PGF2 alpha). For in vitro capacitation semen was incubated, then high ionic strength treated and subsequently incubated in defined medium prior to insemination of oocytes. In one experiment frozen bull semen was successfully used. In experiments with 4 bulls (B, C, D, F), 34 (43.6%) of 78 ova and 13 (19.7%) of 66 follicular oocytes were fertilized in vitro. In the last series (spermatozoa from Bull F) the fertilization of 22 (62.9%) of 35 tubal ova was achieved. In vitro development proceeded to the 8-cell stage. No fertilization in vitro followed use of one male (Bull E), even though his spermatozoa could penetrate zona-free hamster ova in vitro, and higher than usual bacterial contamination of his semen was implicated as the probable cause. Findings suggested vigorous progressive sperm motility and acrosome integrity to be important features of good sperm samples. In one experiment a 4-cell stage embryo was transferred with the result that the recipient gave birth to a normal bull calf on June 9, 1981. The first calf resulting from in vitro fertilization has been found to be completely normal.
Article
In the adult male, a population of diploid stem-cell spermatogonia continuously undergoes self-renewal and produces progeny cells, which initiate the complex process of cellular differentiation that results in mature spermatozoa. We report here that stem cells isolated from testes of donor male mice will repopulate sterile testes when injected into seminiferous tubules. Donor cell spermatogenesis in recipient testes showed normal morpholigical characteristics and produced mature spermatozoa. This methodology, besides opening new avenues of basic research into spermatogenesis and stem-cell self-renewal, may prove useful as a tool for biomedical science and biotechnology.
Article
Embryonic stem cell technology is now well established in the mouse (reviewed by Robertson, 1987). This technology implies the isolation from the preimplantation embrao of a cell line (ES) that is cultured in vitro in an undifferentiated state. Embryonal carcinoma cells (EC) lines obtained from malignant tumours (Martin, 1975), together with all the information available on their culture requirements (reviewed by Heath, 1987), represented a very important starting point for the establishment of ES cells (Martin, 1981). ES cells share many characteristics with EC cells such as the ability to contribute to somatic tissues of animals obtained following injection of cells into a host blastocyst, to differentiate in vitro under appropriate stimuli (Rudnicki & McBurney, 1987) and to form retransplantable tumours. ES cells, however, have substantial advantages over EC cells in that they can be derived directly from a normal embryo, they maintain a normal karyotype and when reintroduced into a host blastocyst they can colonise the germ line (Bradley, 1987). ES cells are maintained in an undifferentiated state by the presence of feeder layers producing various factor(s) that prevent to the cells from differentiating. It has been shown that glycoproteins are responsible for this effect and these have been named according to their different activities: DIA, differentiation inhibitory activity (Smith & Hooper, 1987); LIF, leukaemia inhibiting factor (Smith et al, 1988; Williams et al, 1988); HILDA, human interleukin for DA cells (Moreau et al., 1988). It is now possible to establish and maintain ES cells in culture in the absence of feeders cells but in the presence of such factors (Nichols et al., 1990).
Article
The objective of these studies was to achieve complete oocyte development in vitro beginning with the oocytes in the primordial follicles of newborn mouse ovaries. A two-step strategy was developed: first the ovaries of newborn mice were grown in organ culture for 8 days, and then the developing oocyte-granulosa cell complexes were isolated from the organ-cultured ovaries and cultured for an additional 14 days. The oocytes of primordial follicles are approximately 4190 microns3 in volume (20 microns in diameter), and this volume increased by approximately 53,810 microns3 to a final size of 58,000 microns3--a 13.8-fold increase--during the 8 days of organ culture. In the first experiment the oocyte-granulosa cell complexes were grown in control medium or in medium supplemented with FSH (0.5 ng/ml), epidermal growth factor (EGF; 1.0 ng/ml), or EGF plus FSH. Only 50-60% of the complexes cultured in control medium or in medium supplemented with FSH were recovered at the end of the 14-day culture period. In contrast, more than 90% of the complexes cultured in medium supplemented with EGF were recovered. The median size of the oocytes grown in control medium was 176,800 microns3 (69-microns diameter), while the median size of those grown in medium supplemented with EGF was slightly smaller (136,400-microns3 volume; 63-microns diameter), due to the survival of more smaller-size oocytes in EGF-containing medium. Thirty percent of the oocytes recovered after development in FSH-containing medium were competent to undergo germinal vesicle breakdown (GVB). In the second set of experiments, oocyte-granulosa cell complexes isolated from organ-cultured ovaries were cultured in medium supplemented with either 0.5 or 5.0 ng/ml FSH or with these same concentrations of FSH plus 1.0 ng/ml EGF. Again, increased oocyte recovery was observed in the groups cultured with EGF. There was no difference among the groups in the percentage of the oocytes that acquired competence to undergo GVB (32%) or in the percentage of GVB oocytes that produced a polar body, thus indicating progression of meiosis to metaphase II (22%). When the mature oocytes were inseminated, 21% underwent fertilization and cleavage to the 2-cell stage in the groups without EGF during oocyte development, while 42% underwent fertilization and cleavage to the 2-cell stage in the groups cultured with EGF. Less than 2% of the 2-cell-stage embryos developed to the blastocyst stage in any of the groups. One hundred and ninety 2-cell-stage embryos were transferred to the oviducts of pseudopregnant females; two females produced one pup each; one was living and the other had apparently died recently. The results reported here clearly show that complete development of oocytes in vitro from the primordial follicle stage is possible and establish the framework for further studies using oocytes from laboratory animals as model systems for the development of oocytes from humans as well as from animals of agricultural and zoological importance.
Article
Expression of various developmentally regulated markers was screened throughout the preimplantation stages of in vitro-derived bovine embryos. This was done by investigating the distribution of several nuclear, cytoplasmic and extracellular proteins by means of immunofluorescence microscopy. While lamin B appeared as a constitutive component of nuclei of all preimplantation stages, lamins A/C had a stage-related distribution. The early cleavage stage nuclei contained lamins A/C which generally disappeared in the following stages, with the possible exception of a few positive nuclei in the morula and early blastocyst stage. In the expanded blastocyst stage the nuclei of trophectoderm cells became positive while no positivity was observed in the inner cell mass cells. Starting from day 6, the appearance and/or polarised distribution of various cytoskeletal and cytoskeleton-related components such as F-actin, alpha-catenin and E-cadherin gave an insight into the timing of events related to compaction of bovine embryos. Compaction was correlated with the first differentiation event, i.e. the formation of trophectoderm; this is the first embryonic epithelium, characterised by cytokeratins and desmoplakin. Extracellular fibronectin was first detected in the early blastocyst stage shortly before the morphological differentiation of primitive endoderm, and in the later stages it was localised at the interface between trophectoderm and extraembryonic endoderm. Laminin and collagen IV were expressed by the endoderm cells and contributed to the extracellular matrix underlying the trophectoderm. This study is a first attempt to characterise the cells of in vitro-derived bovine embryos valid for cell line derivation.
Article
Objectives of the present study were to use oocyte transfer: 1) to compare the developmental ability of oocytes collected from ovaries of live mares with those collected from slaughterhouse ovaries; and 2) to compare the viability of oocytes matured in vivo, in vitro, or within the oviduct. Oocytes were collected by transvaginal, ultrasound-guided follicular aspiration (TVA) from live mares or from slicing slaughterhouse ovaries. Four groups of oocytes were transferred into the oviducts of recipients that were inseminated: 1) oocytes matured in vivo and collected by TVA from preovulatory follicles of estrous mares 32 to 36 h after administration of hCG; 2) immature oocytes collected from diestrous mares between 5 and 10 d after aspiration/ovulation by TVA and matured in vitro for 36 to 38 h; 3) immature oocytes collected from diestrous mares between 5 and 10 d after aspiration/ovulation by TVA and transferred into a recipient's oviduct <1 h after collection; and 4) im mature oocytes collected from slaughterhouse ovaries containing a corpus luteum and matured in vitro for 36 to 38 hours. Embryo development rates were higher (P < 0.001) for oocytes matured in vivo (82%) than for oocytes matured in vitro (9%) or within the oviduct (0%). However, neither the method of maturation nor the source of oocytes affected (P > 0.1) embryo development rates after the transfer of immature oocytes.
Article
Embryo production by in vitro techniques has increased steadily over the years. For cattle where this technology is more advanced and is applied more, the number of in vitro produced embryos transferred to final recipients was over 30,000 in 1998. An increasing proportion of in vitro produced embryos are coming from oocytes collected from live donors by ultrasound-guided follicular aspiration (ovum pick up, OPU). This procedure allows the repeated production of embryos from live donors of particular value and is a serious alternative to superovulation. Ovum pick up is a very flexible technique. It can be performed twice a week for many weeks without side effects on the donor's reproductive career. The donor can be in almost any physiological status and still be suitable for oocyte recovery. A scanner with a sectorial or convex probe and a vacuum pump are required. Collection is performed with minimal stress to the donor. An average of 8 to 10 oocytes are collected per OPU with an average production of 2 transferable embryos. The laboratory production of embryos from such oocytes does not differ from that of oocytes harvested at slaughter as the results after transfer to final recipients. For other species such as buffalo and horses OPU has been attempted similarly to cattle and data will be presented and reviewed. For small ruminants, laparotomy or laparoscopy seems the only reliable route so far to collect oocytes from live donors.
Article
Butyrolactone I (BL-I) and Roscovitine (ROS), two specific and potent inhibitors of M-phase promoting factor (MPF) kinase activity, were used to block germinal vesicle breakdown (GVBD) of cattle oocytes. A concentration 6.25 microM BL-I and 12.5 microM ROS blocked over 93.3 +/- 2.5% of oocytes in germinal vesicle (GV) stage during a 24-hr culture period. Following a second 24-hr culture step in maturation medium (IVM) almost all (91.5 +/- 3.0%) inhibited oocytes resumed meiosis and reached the metaphase II (MII) stage. The MII kinetics was different for inhibited and control oocytes. Fifty percent MII was reached at 13-14 hr in BL-I + ROS treated oocytes, compared to 18 hr in control oocytes. Therefore, control oocytes were fertilised (IVF) after 22 hr IVM and inhibited oocytes after 16 or 22 hr IVM. After IVF, percentage of grade 1 freezable embryos on day 7 (D + 7) as well as percentage of blastocyst formation on D + 8 in the group of BL-I + ROS treated oocytes fertilised after 16 hr IVM were higher (P < 0.05) compared with the other experimental group fertilised after 22 hr IVM but not different in comparison with the control. Survival to freezing and thawing of grade 1 embryos frozen on D + 7 was employed as viability criteria and was similar in all groups. Thus, the presence of BL-I + ROS in the prematuration medium of bovine oocytes determines a reversible meiotic block, without compromising their subsequent developmental competence.
Article
The aim of this study is to examine the effect of bovine oocyte maturation, fertilization or culture in vivo or in vitro on the proportion of oocytes reaching the blastocyst stage, and on blastocyst quality as measured by survival following vitrification. In Experiment 1, 4 groups of oocytes were used: (1) immature oocytes from 2-6 mm follicles; (2) immature oocytes from > 6 mm follicles; (3) immature oocytes recovered in vivo just before the LH surge; and (4) in vivo matured oocytes. Significantly more blastocysts developed from oocytes matured in vivo than those recovered just before the LH surge or than oocytes from 2-6 mm follicles. Results from > 6 mm follicles were intermediate. All blastocysts had low survival following vitrification. In Experiment 2, in vivo matured oocytes were either (1) fertilized in vitro or (2) fertilized in vivo by artificial insemination and the resulting presumptive zygotes recovered on day 1. Both groups were then cultured in vitro. In vivo fertilized oocytes had a significantly higher blastocyst yield than those fertilized in vitro. Blastocyst quality was similar between the groups. Both groups had low survival following vitrification. In Experiment 3a, presumptive zygotes produced by in vitro maturation (IVM)/fertilization (IVF) were cultured either in vitro in synthetic oviduct fluid, or in vivo in the ewe oviduct. In Experiment 3b, in vivo matured/in vivo fertilized zygotes were either surgically recovered on day 1 and cultured in vitro in synthetic oviduct fluid, or were nonsurgically recovered on day 7. There was no difference in blastocyst yields between groups of zygotes originating from the same source (in vivo or in vitro fertilization) irrespective of whether culture took place in vivo or in vitro. However, there was a dramatic effect on blastocyst quality with those blastocysts produced following in vivo culture surviving vitrification at significantly higher rates than their in vitro cultured counterparts. Collectively, these results indicate that the intrinsic quality of the oocyte is the main factor affecting blastocyst yields, while the conditions of embryo culture have a crucial role in determining blastocyst quality.
Article
Cloned animals suffer a wide range of severe fetal and placental malformations. Whether these malformations arise from insufficient epigenetic modifications or mutations has not yet been determined. To address this question, we examined siblings from both cloned XO and XY parents. These parents, which exhibited hypertrophic placentas, increased body weights, and open eyelids at birth, were created from the same ES cell sublines. The siblings from all three cloned pairs showed normal body and placenta weights and no open eyelids at birth. The results clearly showed that the phenotypic abnormalities seen in cloned mice were not transmitted to the progeny, a finding that suggests that abnormalities in cloned mice are responsible for insufficient epigenetic modifications/reprogramming.
Article
The history of research into artificial insemination (AI) is over two centuries old and its commercial application now spans 75 years. It is appropriate to reflect on the contribution of this powerful method of gene dispersal. AI remains as one of the most important assisted reproductive technologies. The three cornerstones for its application are: it is simple, economical and successful. The importance of AI will be challenged in the next few decades. The remarkable progress made in other assisted reproductive technologies does have the potential to rapidly generate offspring. The challenge for any of these reproductive technologies to attain widespread use is to match AI in being simple, economical and successful. This review aims at capturing the salient advances in AI, the comparisons with natural mating and other reproductive technologies, and, whether the future of AI will be challenged. It predicts what the new horizon looks like and the role that AI will play in the overall reproductive technologies landscape.
Article
Several animal species, including sheep, mice, cattle, goats, rabbits, cats, pigs and, more recently, mules have been reproduced by somatic cell cloning, with the offspring being a genetic copy of the animal donor of the nuclear material used for transfer into an enucleated oocyte. Here we use this technology to clone an adult horse and show that it is possible to establish a viable, full-term pregnancy in which the surrogate mother is also the nuclear donor. The cloned offspring is therefore genetically identical to the mare who carried it, challenging the idea that maternal immunological recognition of fetal antigens influences the well-being of the fetus and the outcome of the pregnancy.
Article
The development of bovine embryos obtained by intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) was studied in relation to various treatments applied to the sperm and to the early embryo. We investigated the effect of different activation protocols on ICSI-embryos and the influence of sperm capacitation with heparin and D-penicillamine, hypotaurine, and epinephrine (PHE) prior to ICSI. Finally, we studied the effect of dithiothreitol (DTT) pre-treatment of sperm or of injected oocytes. The activation of ICSI-embryos by ionomycin (Io)-cycloheximide (CHX) and sperm pre-treatment with heparin in combination with PHE did not increase the developmental capacity of ICSI-embryos. By contrast, the treatment of injected oocytes with 2 mM DTT resulted in increased cleavage and blastocyst rates in the group of non-activated embryos and in acceleration of blastocyst development in the group of activated embryos. Similarly, pre-treatment of sperm with DTT, followed by ICSI and activation, determined an increase of embryo development on Day 7 although the total number of blastocysts recorded on Day 8 was not different from untreated controls. The transfer of 11 ICSI-blastocysts, produced without activation, in six recipients gave rise to two pregnancies of which one went to term with the birth of an healthy calf.
Article
Transplantation of germ cells from fertile donor mice to the testes of infertile recipient mice results in donor-derived spermatogenesis and transmission of the donor's genetic material to the offspring of recipient animals. Germ cell transplantation provides a bioassay to study the biology of male germ line stem cells, develop systems to isolate and culture spermatogonial stem cells, examine defects in spermatogenesis and treat male infertility. Although most widely studied in rodents, germ cell transplantation has been applied to larger mammals. In domestic animals including pigs, goats and cattle, as well as in primates, germ cells can be transplanted to a recipient testis by ultrasonographic-guided cannulation of the rete testis. Germ cell transplantation was successful between unrelated, immuno-competent pigs and goats, whereas transplantation in rodents requires syngeneic or immuno-compromised recipients. Genetic manipulation of isolated germ line stem cells and subsequent transplantation will result in the production of transgenic sperm. Transgenesis through the male germ line has tremendous potential in domestic animal species where embryonic stem cell technology is not available and current options to generate transgenic animals are inefficient. As an alternative to transplantation of isolated germ cells to a recipient testis, ectopic grafting of testis tissue from diverse mammalian donor species, including horses and primates, into a mouse host represents a novel possibility to study spermatogenesis, to investigate the effects of drugs with the potential to enhance or suppress male fertility, and to produce fertile sperm from immature donors. Therefore, transplantation of germ cells or xenografting of testis tissue are uniquely valuable approaches for the study, preservation and manipulation of male fertility in domestic animals.
Article
We have used leukocytes and oocytes from commercially slaughtered animals to clone a progeny tested Brown Swiss bull. Mononuclear cells were separated from the heparinized blood of the donor male on a Histopaque gradient and cryopreserved. The nuclei of thawed leukocytes were directly microinjected into enucleated Holstein Friesian oocytes that were subsequently activated. Development to morula was 23% and to blastocysts was 17%. Some of the cloned compacting morulae were subjected to a second round of nucleus transfer by fusion of individual blastomeres to enucleated oocytes. Development of these second generation embryos to the blastocyst stage was 19%. Following embryo transfer of 50 blastocysts to 50 recipient heifers (31 from first generation and 19 from second generation), 28 pregnancies were established as evidenced by fetal heartbeat at 35 days. A high proportion of the pregnancies established were lost by day 45. One fetus from a second generation embryo developed to term. The phenotype (Brown Swiss) and DNA analysis (11 microsatellites on 11 different chromosomes) of the resultant normal healthy calf confirmed its identity to the donor sire. The ability to clone animals from hematopoietic cells that can be easily collected and cryopreserved from any donor irrespective of species, age, or sex has important implications for the preservation of genetic resources from a wide variety of animals in the animal breeding and artificial insemination industries and for human medicine.