PROBLEM: Early pregnancy factor (EPF) has been detected in pregnant bovine serum, and its activity appeared from 24 to 48 hr after insemination. However, in bovine in vitro fertilization (IVF), an EPF-like substance(s) had been detected in the culture medium of fertilized ovum. Therefore, we think that EPF and EPF-like substance(s) are very important materials for the development of the embryo. In this study, we examined the development of the embryo when fertilized bovine ova were cultured with IVF culture medium supplemented with EPF-positive or -negative serum.
METHOD OF STUDY: EPF activity of each serum (fetal calf serum [FCS], calf serum [CS], estrus bovine serum, and pregnant bovine serum) was assessed by the bovine-rosette inhibition test. The sera were supplemented in TCM-199 culture medium, and IVF bovine ova were cultured with the media for 6 or 7 days, respectively. The culture media of each group were evaluated for EPF activity by the bovine-rosette inhibition test 48 hr after IVF. The cleavage rate of each group was calculated at 48 hr, and 6 or 7 days after IVF. The culture medium of cumulus cells was also tested for EPF activity.
RESULTS: Only the pregnant bovine sera were EPF positive. All the culture media 48 hr after IVF became EPF positive. Additionally, the culture medium of cumulus cells did not have EPF activity. There was no significant difference in the cleavage rate of the EPF-positive and - negative sera 48 hr after IVF. However, the cleavage rate of EPF-positive sera tended to be higher than the negative sera. In contrast, the blastocyst development rates of EPF-positive sera were significantly higher than those of the negative sera 6 to 7 days after IVF (P < 0.05).
CONCLUSIONS: The data suggest that an EPF-like substance(s) may be secreted from the in vitro fertilized bovine ovum but not from the cumulus cell, and that the EPF in the pregnant serum may accelerate the development of the bovine embryo in IVF.