Laser-assisted Vitrification of Large Equine Embryos

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Abstract

Contents

The major difficulty in providing the benefits of embryo cryopreservation for equine agriculture is the mismatch between the optimal embryo age for collection from the mare (7–8 days after ovulation was detected) and the optimal age for freezing under current methods (6.5 days after ovulation). To overcome this limitation, we tested a method to enhance penetration of cryopreservative across the capsule and trophoblast of day 7 and 8 embryos combined with rapid freezing by vitrification. Six small embryos (< 300 μm in diameter) were collected on day 6–7 after ovulation and twelve larger embryos were recovered on day 7–8. In the treatment group, replacement of blastocoelic fluid with cryopreservative solution was facilitated by a laser system used to create a small opening in the embryonic capsule and trophectoderm. All embryos were vitrified using a CryoLeaf freezing support. After recovery from freezing and embryo transfer, three of four small untreated embryos (< 300 μm in diameter, 75%) and four of nine large blastocysts in the treatment group (> 300 μm in diameter, 44%) resulted in a vesicle as detected by ultrasonography approximately one week after transfer. However, only one recipient mare was still pregnant on day 23, and she delivered a live foal. Further investigation is required to determine why most of the embryos in this experiment were lost between day 13 and day 23 of gestation.

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