Animal Reproduction (AR)
Animal Reproduction (AR)

Relationships of morphological and phototextural attributes of presumptive ovine zygotes and early embryos to their developmental competence in vitro: a preliminary assessment using time-lapse imaging

Karolina Fryc; Agnieszka Nowak; Barbara Kij-Mitka; Joanna Kochan; Maciej Murawski; Samantha Pena; Pawel Mieczyslaw Bartlewski

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Abstract: The assessment of morphology and digital image opacity may provide valuable information on the present embryo quality. Time-lapse imaging has been employed in research to establish a means of monitoring the dynamic nature of preimplantation embryo development. The aim of present study was to use time-lapse imaging for assessing various prospective morphometric and phototextural markers of the developmental potential of in vitro-derived ovine embryos. Oocytes were obtained by scarification of ovaries from nine Polish Longwool ewes. After in vitro maturation (IVM) and fertilization (IVF) of oocytes with fresh ram semen, the development of embryos to the blastocyst stage was monitored and evaluated using Primo Vision time-lapse imaging technology. Commercially available Image-Pro® Plus software was used to measure zona pellucida thickness, embryo diameter, total area of the perivitelline space, cellular grey-scale pixel intensity and cellular pixel heterogeneity. Statistical assessment of all attributes was done at various time points during embryo development (i.e., presumptive zygote stage: t(0); first cleavage detected at t(2) or t(3); and second cleavage detected at t(4) or t(6)). Out of thirty-seven zygotes analyzed in this study, five did not divide, 26 arrested before and six developed to the blastocyst stage. Our present results indicate that most parameters analyzed did not differ among embryos varying in their developmental fate except for the perivitelline space area that was greater (P<0.05) for non-dividing zygotes than future blastocysts at the presumptive zygote stage (4040±1850 vs. 857±262 µm2, respectively; means±SEM). Consequently, the measurement of perivitelline space at t(0) can potentially be used to prognosticate developmental potential of in vitro-produced ovine embryos albeit further confirmational studies are needed.


sheep, in vitro embryo production, time-lapse imaging, morphology, phototexture


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