Melatonin enhances in vitro developmental competence of cumulus-oocyte complexes collected by ovum pick-up in prepubertal and adult dairy cattle

Gutiérrez-Añez, Juan Carlos; Lucas-Hahn, Andrea GND; Hadeler, Klaus Gerd GND; Aldag, Patrick GND; Niemann, Heiner GND

Bovine oocytes from prepubertal donors have been used for in vitro embryo production to decrease the generation interval. However, reduced cumulus-oocyte competence, mainly attributed to increased apoptosis, has been observed in oocytes/embryos collected from prepubertal donors. Here, we investigated the effects of the potent antioxidative molecule melatonin on cumulus-oocyte competence and embryo development in prepubertal and adult dairy cattle in vitro. A total of fifteen Holstein Friesian calves, six to ten months old (7.6 ± 1.34 months of age). And fifteen adult cows with one to four calvings (2.3 ± 0.96 calvings) were enrolled as ovum pick up (OPU) donors in this study. Cumulus-oocyte complexes (COCs) were cultured either in the presence or absence of melatonin (0.01 nM). The proportion of cleavage stages, blastocysts, and advanced blastocysts was determined. Embryo quality was assessed via differential staining to determine the total embryonic cells and allocation to the inner cell mass (ICM) and trophectoderm (TE) cells. Melatonin treatment yielded a greater percentage of blastocysts compared to the control group, i.e. oocytes from both adult cows (P = 0.0485; 24.8 ± 3.5% vs. 16.0 ± 3.4%, respectively), and from prepubertal donors (P = 0.0007; Melatonin 23.1 ± 5.1% vs. Control: 11.1 ± 3.5%). Adult cows had significantly (P = 0.0370) greater advanced blastocyst rates than those found in the prepubertal group (13.9%± vs. 7.0±%, respectively). Additionally, the number of ICM, total cells, and the ratios ICM: Total, ICM: TE, respectively, were greater (P < 0.05) after melatonin treatment compared with the control group (39.1 ± 2.8, 98.6 ± 5.7, 0.4 ± 0.01, and 0.7 ± 0.04 vs. 27.3 ± 2.9, 81.2 ± 5.8, 0.34 ± 0.01, and 0.52 ± 0.04, respectively). Blastocysts derived from adult cows had a greater number of TE (P = 0.01) and total embryonic cells (P = 0.0095) compared to the prepubertal donor group (63.5 ± 3.2 and 101.05 ± 4.8 vs. 48.9 ± 4.3 and 78.8 ± 6.5, respectively). Nevertheless, embryonic cell counting in embryos derived from prepubertal COCs equated to that observed from adult donors after melatonin exposure. In conclusion, these results indicate that the presence of melatonin during in vitro maturation improves cumulus-oocyte competence, embryo development, and quality by increasing the allocation of embryonic cells to the ICM compartment and the total number of embryonic cells in both adult and prepubertal bovine donors.

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Gutiérrez-Añez, Juan / Lucas-Hahn, Andrea / Hadeler, Klaus-Gerd / et al: Melatonin enhances in vitro developmental competence of cumulus-oocyte complexes collected by ovum pick-up in prepubertal and adult dairy cattle. 2020.

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