Post-transfer outcomes in cultured bovine embryos supplemented with epidermal growth factor, fibroblast growth factor 2, and insulin-like growth factor 1.


Department of Animal & Poultry Sciences, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA. Electronic address: [Email]


This work examined the downstream fetal and placental outcomes of introducing a cocktail of uterine-derived growth factors during bovine embryo culture. Abattoir-derived bovine oocytes were matured and fertilized in vitro. On day 4 post-fertilization, ≥ 8-cell embryos were harvested, pooled and exposed to an embryokine mix, termed EFI, which contained recombinant human epidermal growth factor (10 ng/ml), bovine fibroblast growth factor-2 (10 ng/ml) and human insulin-like growth factor 1 (50 ng/ml) or to a carrier-only control treatment (CON). On day 7, individual, transfer-quality embryos were transferred to recipients. Timed ovulation was completed in mature, non-suckled commercial beef cows. Cows either were artificial inseminated (AI) or received an embryo (ET) on day 7 post-estrus (n = 23-31 cows/treatment over 4 replicate studies). The percentage of grade 1 and 2 morulae and blastocysts was greater (P < 0.05) for EFI-treated embryos than CON. The percentage of pregnant cows diagnosed by transrectal ultrasonography did not differ among the AI and ET groups on days 28, 42 and 56 post-estrus. There also were no differences in the ratio of male to female fetuses determined on day 60 post-estrus by transrectal ultrasonography. On day 21 post-estrus, the relative abundance of three interferon-stimulated gene (ISG) transcripts in peripheral leukocytes were not different based on AI/ET group or the sex of the conceptus. Circulating pregnancy-associated glycoprotein (PAG) concentrations differed (P < 0.05) among days. Also, a difference in PAG concentrations (P < 0.05) were detected between male and female pregnancies in the CON-ET group but not in the AI or EFI-ET groups. Crown-rump length was not affected by AI/ET group on day 42 but were less (P < 0.05) in the CON and EFI-ET groups than the AI group on day 56. These findings implicate EFI supplementation as a means for improving transferable embryo production in a bovine IVP system, but it is not clear if this treatment improves embryo competency after ET.


Embryo development,Growth factors,Pregnancy,Trophectoderm,