Somatic cell cloning is expected to be a valuable method for conserving genetic resources in pigs. In this study, we compared the reproductive and growth performance of Jin Hua cloned pigs with that of naturally bred Jin Hua pigs. In addition, we generated offspring from the cloned sows and examined the productivity and quality of meat in the progeny. The birth weights and growth rates of somatic cell-cloned pigs were similar to those of Jin Hua pigs. The cloned pigs reached puberty very early, and this is typical of the Jin Hua breed. Furthermore, reproductive performance, in terms of traits such as gestation period, litter size, and raising rate in the cloned pigs were similar to Jin Hua pigs. Although the offspring of the cloned (OC) pigs had lower birth weights than the Jin Hua breed, the daily weight gain of the OC pigs was significantly higher, especially at the finishing stage. The carcass quality of the OC pigs had similar characteristics to the Jin Hua breed, namely thick back fat and a small loin area. Furthermore, the meat qualities of the OC pigs were similar to those of Jin Hua pigs in terms of intramuscular fat content and tenderness. These results demonstrate that cloned pigs and their offspring were similar to the Jin Hua breed in most of the growth, reproductive, and meat productive performances. This strongly suggests that pigs cloned from somatic cell nuclei have the potential to be a valuable genetic resource for breeding.
The present study was conducted to examine the comparative efficacy of potassium simplex optimization medium (KSOM) and North Carolina State University (NCSU)-23 medium supplemented with beta-mercaptoethanol (β-ME) and amino acids (AA) on the developmental competence of porcine in vitro fertilized (IVF) embryos. Four experiments were conducted. KSOM and NCSU-23 medium were used to culture porcine parthenogenetic (Exp. 1) and IVF (Exp. 2) embryos. KSOM and NCSU-23 were equally effective in supporting porcine parthenogenetic and IVF embryo development from the 1-cell stage to blastocysts. The NCSU-23 medium (Exp. 3) and KSOM (Exp. 4) were supplemented with amino acid (AA; 5 μl/ml non-essential amino acids + 10 μl/ml essential amino acids) and/or 10 μM beta-mercaptoethanol (β-ME). The quality of blastocysts from Exp. 3 and 4 was evaluated by counting the number of total cells and determining the ratio of the inner cell mass (ICM) to trophoectoderm (TE) cells. Supplementing with AA and β-ME or β-ME alone in NCSU-23 produced significant (p<0.05) differences in terms of rate of cleavage to the 2- to 4- cell (80.8 to 85.4% vs. 73.6%) and blastocyst (30.4 to 30.5 vs. 23.5%) stages and the number of TE (51.4 to 53.8 vs. 35.8) and total cells (67.2 to 71.2 to 48.8) over the control group. On the other hand, supplementing KSOM with AA and/or β-ME produced significant (p<0.05) differences in terms of rate of cleavage to the 2- to 4-cell (78.8% vs. 67.7%) and morula (57.8% vs. 46.3%) stages and the number of ICM (18.6 to 19.2 vs. 11.6) and total cells (62.8 to 70.6 vs. 42.8) over control group. In conclusion, our study demonstrates that both KSOM and NCSU-23 medium supplemented with AA and β-ME and/or only β-ME alone are superior to normal KSOM and NCSU-23 for porcine IVF embryo culture in terms of embryo developmental competence and quality.
Development of assisted reproductive technologies is necessary to obtain fertilized oocytes in a subfertile transgenic mouse strain. Here, we showed the application of laser-assisted drilling of the zona pellucida to in vitro fertilization of cryopreserved mouse oocytes with sperm from subfertile transgenic mice (C57BL/6N-Tg(UCP/FAD2)U8 strain). After cryopreservation by vitrification, the recovery and survival rates of the zona-drilled mouse oocytes were 97% (97/100) and 94% (91/97), respectively. In vitro fertilization of the cryopreserved zona-drilled mouse oocytes with sperm from the subfertile transgenic mice was greatly facilitated (60%, 55/91) compared to that of the cryopreserved zona-intact mouse oocytes (11%, 81/768). In vitro fertilized embryos that developed to the 2-cell stage were again cryopreserved by vitrification, and after warming they were transferred into recipient females. Subsequently, six viable offspring were delivered, and all were confirmed to be transgenic mice. These results indicate that laser-assisted zona drilling of oocytes combined with cryopreservation by vitrification may be a useful approach for large-scale production of in vitro fertilized embryos for managing transgenic mouse strains with reproductive disabilities such as subfertile sperm.
In the present study, the expression of inhibin/activin subunits in the mouse ovary from 13 days post-coitus (dpc) to 30 days postpartum (dpp) was investigated. Circulating FSH, LH, inhibin A, and inhibin B in neonatal to 30 dpp ovaries were measured. Inhibin/activin subunits (α, βA, βB ) were weakly stained in 13 dpc ovarian stromal cells and increased with age. Inhibin α subunit was immunolocalized in follicular granulosa cells at each developmental stage. In 30 dpp ovaries, several large antral follicles were strongly stained for inhibin α subunit. Inhibin βA subunit was weakly immunolocalized in granulosa cells until 20 dpp. Moreover, 2 to 3 antral follicles from 20 to 30 dpp were strongly stained for inhibin βA subunit. There was relatively high immunoactivity for inhibin βB subunit in neonatal to 30 dpp mouse ovaries. All three inhibin subunits were stained in theca-interstitial cells from 15 dpp onward. RIA data showed that a temporal increase in circulating FSH occurred around 10 dpp, while the plasma concentrations of LH were sustained at a relatively higher level from 8 to 15 dpp. Inhibin B was detectable in circulation early at 1 dpp (day of birth), and a clear increase in inhibin B occurred around 8 dpp. Circulating inhibin B gradually increased from 20 dpp to 30 dpp, indicating a negative correlation with FSH. Inhibin A levels were only measured on 25 and 30 dpp, and the levels were low. These results suggest that inhibins play an important role in early folliculogenesis in mice. In addition, inhibin B seems to be the main functional isoform from the neonatal to prepubertal stage in the mouse ovary.
Adequate uterine contractility and periovulatory peristalsis, interpreted as "rapid sperm transport" to the side bearing the dominant follicle, may be a precondition for successful reproduction in humans. Estrogen and progesterone fluctuate characteristically during the menstrual cycle, and their source is the dominant follicle and corpus luteum. The question is, how is the direction to the left or right side of transport mechanisms influenced? An extracorporeal perfusion model of the swine uterus was used that maintained the uterus in a functional condition and that was suitable for the study of physiological questions. The effects of side-dependent estrogen, progesterone, and estrogen plus progesterone perfusion on oxytocin-induced uterine peristalsis were assessed using two intrauterine microcatheters placed in each horn of the swine uterus. Estrogen perfusion was associated with an increase in intrauterine pressure (IUP) in a dose-dependent manner only in the estrogen-perfused horn of the swine uterus. There was a significant difference between the IUP increase measured in the estrogen-perfused horn and that in the non estrogen-perfused horn of the swine uterus. Progesterone perfusion showed no effect in general. Furthermore, progesterone antagonized the estrogen effects. This study demonstrates that side-dependent estrogen perfusion resulted in side-dependent contractility in the swine uterus perfusion system used. These observations show that estrogen stimulates uterine contractility in the estrogen-perfused uterine horn and that estrogens may be the "trigger" for the transport mechanisms to the side bearing the dominant follicle during the periovulatory phase through their locally increased concentration and distribution via the utero-ovarian counter-current system in humans.
The present study investigated in vitro culture methods [droplet and Well of the Well (WOW)] using semi-defined and defined media [modified porcine zygote medium (mPZM)] and the additional effects of insulin on in vitro matured and intracytoplasmically inseminated porcine oocytes. In Experiment 1, in vitro matured and intracytoplasmically inseminated porcine oocytes were cultured for 6 days in the following four groups: 1) mPZM-3 (containing bovine serum albumin) + droplet (30 μl), 2) mPZM-3 + WOW, 3) mPZM-4 (containing polyvinyl alcohol) + droplet, and 4) mPZM-4+ WOW. The culture media (mPZM-3 and mPZM-4) and methods (droplet and WOW) did not significantly affect the cleavage rate, but the blastocyst rate of the oocytes cultured in mPZM-3 was significantly (P<0.01) higher than that of mPZM-4 (20.1 and 9.4%, respectively). The blastocyst rates as percentages of the cleaved oocytes (51.8 and 16.9%) and the hatched blastocyst rate as percentages of the number of blastocysts (12.3 and 2.2%) were also significantly (P<0.01) higher in mPZM-3 compared with those in mPZM-4. There was significant interaction (P<0.05) between the two main factors; the effects of the culture media and methods on the rate of hatched blasyocysts as percentages of the blastocysts produced and, the hatched blastocyst rate (20.3%) as percentages of the number of blastocysts produced in mPZM-3 were significantly (P<0.05) higher than in the other groups. In Experiment 2, the additional effects of insulin (100 ng/ml) in mPZM-3 and mPZM-4 media was investigated in the WOW culture system. Insulin addition did not improve cleavage, blastocyst formation, or the number of cells in blastocysts. However, as in Experiment 1, mPZM-3 resulted in a significantly higher blastocyst rate as percentages of the cleaved oocytes than mPZM-4 (33.9 and 18.4%). These results indicate that a chemically defined medium (mPZM-4) needs to be improved to provide more suitable culture conditions for in vitro development of in vitro matured and intracytoplasmically inseminated porcine oocytes. However, the WOW system may be a useful IVC method for blastocyst development of in vitro matured porcine oocytes following ICSI when a semi-defined medium (mPZM-3) is used.
This study was conducted to evaluate the effects of exposing porcine ovaries to 30-33 C during transportation for 4 h and subsequently room temperature (25 C) for 6 h of storage on in vitro maturation (IVM) and subsequent parthenogenetic development of oocytes collected from the ovaries. After IVM, oocytes having a tight oopalsm membrane and no signs of degeneration were exposed to Dulbecco's phosphate-buffered saline (DPBS) with 7% ethanol (v/v) for 7 min to induce parthenogenetic activation. Moreover, we also determined whether exposure of the collected oocytes to room temperature for 1, 2 and 4 h in DPBS or porcine follicular fluid (pFF) affected parthenogenetic development. When porcine ovaries were stored after transportation, oocytes collected from the stored ovaries showed a significantly higher rate of degeneration after 65 h of IVM (58.4%) and a significantly lower rate of cleavage after parthenogenetic activation (40.1%) than oocytes collected from ovaries immediately after transportation (38.9% and 47.4%, respectively). However, there was no significant difference in developmental rates to the morula and blastocyst stages between these two groups (14.4% and 14.3%, respectively). The duration of preservation, 1, 2, and 4 h, of oocytes in DPBS did not affect parthenogenetic development. In contrast, when preserved for 4 h in pFF, the developmental rates of the oocytes were significantly decreased. This suggested that some factor(s) in follicular fluid affects the developmental rate of oocytes with the passage of time in ambient conditions. These results suggest that even after 6 h storage of ovaries, oocytes having normal morphology after IVM have the same rate of parthenogenetic development as oocytes collected from ovaries just after 4 h of transportation, except for a lower cleavage rate, and that exposure of oocytes to room temperature for 4 h in DPBS does not affect their parthenogenetic developmental competence.
The Wuzhishan miniature pig originates from Hainan Island, P. R. China, and is considered useful for medical and veterinary research due to its small size; a mature adult weights less than 25 kg. To reveal the genetic characteristics of this breed, the genetic polymorphism in 4 inbred strains was estimated using 30 microsatellite genes, multiplex polymerase chain reaction, and gene scanning. The average number of alleles at the 30 marker loci was 8.300, 4.533, 6.700, and 7.433, respectively. The polymorphism information content was 0.632, 0.507, 0.653, and 0.691, respectively. The average homozygosity in these strains was 0.537, 0.546, 0.549, and 0.520, respectively. These results indicate a relatively high degree of heterozygosity, perhaps becaquse these strains were inbred for 3 generations. Therefore, a long-term inbred breeding program should be conducted for Wuzhishan pigs to establish an experimental model.
Tail DNA genotyping of fetal and neonatal mice from C/EBPβ heterozygous parents was performed to determine whether the decreased number of surviving C/EBPβ mutants was caused by prenatal or postnatal death. Eighty-four 3-week-old mice born of heterozygous parents had significantly lower numbers of C/EBPβ-deficient offspring than the expected Mendelian ratio (29.8%+/+, 65.5%+/-, 4.76%-/-, P<0.05). The genotypes of 72 fetal mice from intercrossed heterozygotes showed approximately the expected 1:2:1 Mendelian ratio (18.1% +/+, 52.8% +/-, 29.2% -/-, P>0.05). No difference in the proportions by sex could be detected in these perinates. This data indicates that C/EBPβ-deficient mice have unknown lethal problems between the embryonic stage and weaning.
Meishan pigs are known for their early sexual maturity. On the other hand, they grow slowly. There is no information currently available about the combination of these two characteristics in Meishan pigs. To study the developmental characteristics of Meishan pigs, the plasma concentrations of LH, FSH, inhibin, testosterone, estradiol-17β, progesterone and insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) in young Meishan boars were determined using RIA and ELISA. Inhibin decreased with age in weeks, while testosterone and estradiol-17 β increased. Testosterone increased gradually, and an increase in estradiol-17β occurred after sexual maturity. IGF-I increased before puberty and subsequently decreased just after puberty like a pubertal IGF-1 surge. FSH, LH and progesterone did not change with age. There was no significant correlation among the hormones. During the experimental period, the Meishan boars showed large individual differences. These differences may depend on the fact that Meishan boar reach maturity at 12 weeks of age and continue to grow thereafter.
Porcine relaxin is a peptide hormone belonging to the insulin super family that has a variety of biological functions. The present experiment was designed to investigate the effects of relaxin on sperm function and on in vitro fertilization (IVF) of porcine oocytes. Porcine spermatozoa were washed, swum-up, and incubated for 1-4 h in mTALP medium supplemented with 0, 20 or 50 ng/ml porcine relaxin. Motility was determined by observing the type of forward movement of the spermatozoa, and acrosome status was evaluated by applying the triple staining technique. Immature oocytes were aspirated from antral follicles and matured in IVM medium (modified NCSU-37). Matured oocytes were co-cultured with spermatozoa in IVF medium (mTALP) supplemented with 0, 5, 10, 15 or 20 ng/ml relaxin. After 6 h of sperm-oocyte co-incubation, putative zygotes were cultured for 18 h in oocyte culture medium NCSU-37 and then assessed for the rates of monospermy, polyspermy, and male pronucleus formation after acetic orcein staining. Relaxin improved (P<0.05) sperm motility and increased the percentage of acrosome-reacted live spermatozoa during 1-4 h of incubation, although viability was not significantly improved. Significantly (P<0.05) the highest percentage of monospermic (31.7%) and lowest percentage of polyspermic (16.5%) fertilization was achieved from the sperm-oocyte co-culture group treated with 20 ng/ml relaxin as compared to other groups. The percentage of male pronucleus formation was significantly (P<0.05) greater in the 20 ng/ml relaxin-treated sperm-oocyte co-culture group than in the other groups. These results indicate that supplementation with relaxin is capable of improving sperm function and fertilization of porcine oocytes in vitro.
Blood flow to the gravid and nongravid uterine horns of four multiparous Holstein cows (mean ± SD, BW=641.8 ± 95.4 kg; age=4.8 ± 1.2 years; parity=3.0 ± 1.2) was measured on days 225, 248, and 266 of gestation. Surgery was conducted on day 214.5 ± 4.0 of gestation through the flank of the standing cows. Transit-time ultrasonic flow probes (diameter 12 or 14 mm) were fitted surgically around the uterine arteries of each cow. Surgery was completed within two hours of anesthesia, and the animals recovered rapidly following surgery. Uterine blood flow (UBF, l/min) was recorded at 10 sec intervals for approximately 23.5 hours; these values were averaged to determine UBF. The mean gravid UBF was significantly (P<0.05) greater than the nongravid UBF in this study. The range of the gravid and nongravid UBFs varied from 3.61 to 14.05 and 0.72 to 6.54 l/min, respectively. There were no changes (P>0.1) in the mean gravid and nongravid UBFs from day 225 to 266 of gestation.
Oocytes lose their developmental competence during prolonged storage of the ovary. In the present study, we supplemented the preservation solution for pig ovaries (phosphate buffered saline, PBS) with glucose and preserved the ovaries for 6 h at 25 C. Subsequently, we examined the glucose concentration of the follicular fluid (FF), pH of the FF, survival rate of the granulosa cells, and maturation and developmental competence of oocytes after storage. During storage, the glucose concentration of the FF (2.1 mM), pH of the FF (7.4), and survival rate of the granulosa cells (69.5%) rapidly decreased (glucose concentration: under 1.1 mM; pH: 6.8; and survival rate: 43%). On the other hand, when the preservation solution was supplemented with glucose (15 mM), the glucose concentration of the FF increased and the survival rate of the granulosa cells improved, although the pH of the FF decreased further (from 6.8 to 6.6). In addition, supplementation with glucose significantly improved the rates of oocytes at metaphase II (0 h: 65.0%; 6 h without glucose: 23.8%; and 6 h with glucose: 43.8%) and attenuated the decline in the rates of fertilization and development that resulted from prolonged storage, although there were no significant differences. In conclusion, modification of the preservation solution by the addition of glucose increased the glucose concentration of the FF and improved the rate of maturation of pig oocytes.
In this study, two following experiments were performed to improve post-thaw motility and viability of frozen-thawed ram spermatozoa. We examined i) the effects of different concentrations of bovine serum albumin (0, 0.3, 1, 5, 10 and 15% BSA) in semen diluents lacking egg yolk and ii) the effects of four semen diluents, fructose (F: control) and trehalose (T) in semen diluents containing egg yolk, 15% BSA in semen diluents without egg yolk (BSA), and modified phosphate buffered saline (m-PBS). Frozen-thawed spermatozoa were examined for progressive sperm motility, viability, morphological abnormality, sperm tail swelling test, and sperm acrosome integrity. In Experiment 1, the rates of sperm motility immediately after thawing (0 h) were significantly (P<0.05) higher in the 10 and 15% BSA groups (55.0 ± 2.9 and 58.3 ± 6.7%, respectively) than in the positive control (F) group (41.7 ± 4.4%). The rate of sperm viability in the negative control (0% BSA) group (80.2 ± 3.3%) was significantly (P<0.05) lower than in the positive control (F) group (89.8 ± 1.5%), but when compared with the F group, no significant differences were found among the 0.3, 1, 5, 10 and 15% BSA groups at 0 h. The rates of sperm morphological abnormality of the 10 and 15% BSA groups (6.5 ± 1.3 and 6.3 ± 1.1%, respectively) were significantly (P<0.05) lower at 0 h than that in the 1% BSA group (16.3 ± 5.2%). In Experiment 2, T addition improved (P<0.05) the post-thaw motility compared with the F and BSA groups. Furthermore, at 3 and 6 h, the post-thaw motility of the T group (36.3 ± 2.4 and 25.0 ± 2.0%, respectively) was significantly (P<0.05) higher than in the BSA (26.3 ± 2.4 and 18.8 ± 1.3%, respectively) and F (28.8 ± 3.8 and 18.8 ± 2.4%, respectively) groups. The post-thaw sperm motility and viability in the m-PBS group were significantly (P<0.05) lower than those of the control (F), T, and BSA groups throughout all observation points. These results indicate that 10 and 15% BSA can be substituted for egg-yolk for ram semen diluent and that the addition of trehalose enhances motility and viability of ram spermatozoa after freezing and thawing.