Pregnancy Rates Following Low-Temperature Storage of Large Equine Embryos Before Vitrification

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Abstract

Satisfactory pregnancy rates can now be achieved following the cryopreservation of large equine embryos. Nonetheless, its wide application might be limited by the fact that the cryopreservation of large equine embryos requires a specialized micromanipulation equipment and micromanipulation/vitrification skills. Alternatives should be developed to increase its utilization and widespread application in the commercial equine industry. To determine if large equine embryos are able to remain viable during transport from farms to specialized centers for embryo cryopreservation, we evaluated pregnancy rates following the low-temperature storage of large equine embryos before vitrification. Grade 1 embryos (n = 37) were randomly assigned to six treatments consisting of day of collection (Day 7 or 8 after ovulation) and cooling for 0, 12, or 24 hours before vitrification in a factorial design. Pregnancy rates of Day 7 embryos cooled for 12 and 24 hours were 55.5% and 75%, respectively. Pregnancy rates of Day 8 embryos cooled for 12 and 24 hours were 0 and 16.6%, respectively. Day 7 cooled embryos resulted in higher pregnancy rate compared with Day 8 cooled embryos (64.7% and 7.7%, respectively; P < .05). Pregnancy rate comparison of cooled embryos grouped by diameter showed that embryos <550 μm resulted in a higher pregnancy rate compared with embryos >550 μm (71.4% and 12.5% respectively; P < .05). In conclusion, Day 7 equine embryos up to 550 μm can be cooled to temperatures of 9–12°C for 12 or 24 hours before vitrification and result in satisfactory pregnancy rates.

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