Birth of Kittens After the Transfer of Frozen–Thawed Embryos Produced by Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection with Spermatozoa Collected from Cryopreserved Testicular Tissue

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The aim of this study is to produce live kittens from oocytes fertilized by intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) with frozen/thawed testicular spermatozoa. Spermatozoa were collected from thawed testicular tissue and subsequently injected into in vitro matured cat oocytes. At 24 h post-ICSI, presumptive zygotes/cleaved embryos were treated with 10 μm forskolin for 24 h to reduce intracellular lipid content of embryos (delipidation). At 48 h after oocyte injection, cleaved embryos (2- to 8-cell stage) were frozen in 10% (v/v) ethylene glycol-based medium by a slow controlled rate method and stored in liquid nitrogen. To evaluate in vitro and in vivo developmental competence, frozen embryos were thawed and then cultured for 6 days (n = 155) or cultured for 2 h before transferred (n = 209) to hormonal (equine chorionic gonadotropin/hCG)-treated cat recipients. Cleavage frequency at day 2 after ICSI with frozen/thawed testicular spermatozoa was ˜30%. The percentages of frozen/thawed embryos that developed to morula and blastocyst stage (on day 3 and day 6 of in vitro culture, respectively) were significantly lower than that of fresh ICSI embryos (22.6 vs 45.2% and 21.3 vs 38.7%, respectively; p < 0.05). However, no difference was found in the number of blastomeres between frozen/thawed (242.5 ± 43.1) and fresh (320.2 ± 28.1) blastocysts. Three of seven cat recipients were pregnant and one pregnant cat delivered two healthy kittens. This is the first report of the birth of kittens after the transfer of frozen–thawed embryos produced by ICSI with frozen/thawed testicular sperm.

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