Volume 63 (2017) Issue 6 Pages 581-590
Compared with the in vivo environment, porcine in vitro embryo-culture systems are suboptimal, as they induce oxidative stress via the accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). High ROS levels during early embryonic development cause negative effects, such as apoptosis. In this study, we examined the effects of the antioxidant carboxyethylgermanium sesquioxide (Ge-132) during in vitro culture (IVC) on embryonic development in porcine in vitro fertilization (IVF) embryos. Zygotes were treated with different concentrations of Ge-132 (0, 100, 200 and 400 μg/ml). All of the Ge-132 treatment groups displayed greater total cell numbers after IVC (98.1, 98.5 and 103.4, respectively) compared with the control group (73.9). The 200 μg/ml Ge-132 treatment group exhibited significantly increased intracellular GSH levels compared with the control group, whereas the ROS generation levels decreased in Ge-132 dose-dependent manner (P < 0.05). The mRNA expression levels of the KEAP1 gene and proapoptotic genes BAX and CASPASE3 were lower in the Ge-132 treated blastocysts compared with the control group (P < 0.05). The percentages of apoptotic and necrotic cells in the Ge-132 treated embryos on day 2 (48 h) were significantly lower than the untreated embryos (9.1 vs. 17.1% and 0 vs. 2.7%, respectively). In the day 7 blastocysts, the percentages of apoptotic cells in 200 µg/ml Ge-132 treated group were lower compared to controls (1.6 vs. 2.5%). More KEAP1 protein was found to be localized in cytoplasm of the 200 μg/ml Ge-132 treated blastocysts, whereas KEAP1 protein was predominantly nuclei in the control blastocysts. These results indicate that the developmental competence of embryos cultured under Ge-132 treatment may be associated with KEAP1 signaling cascades involved in oxidative stress and apoptosis during porcine preimplantation embryo development.