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Lipid Droplet Analysis Using In Vitro Bovine Oocytes and Embryos

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The aim of this study was to quantify the content of lipid droplets in bovine oocytes and embryos from Bos indicus (Bi), Bos taurus (Bt) and Bos indicus × Bos taurus (Bi × Bt). Oocytes were aspirated post-mortem and subjected to in vitro maturation, in vitro fertilization and in vitro development; the medium employed at each stage (TCM-199, TALP, SOF) was supplemented with (i) serum replacement (SR), (ii) foetal calf serum (FCS) or (iii) oestrous cow serum (ECS). The structure and distribution of the lipid droplets were established using electron microscopy, but were quantified using an optical microscope on semi-fine toluidine blue-stained sections. The highest percentage of embryos corresponded to those produced with FCS and ECS, which differed from embryos generated with SR (p < 0.05). The highest percentage of morulae and the lowest percentage of blastocysts were obtained with the SR supplement (p < 0.05). The oocytes cultured in FCS demonstrated a higher number of lipid droplets compared to those cultured in SR and ECS (p < 0.05). Less accumulation of lipids was observed in embryos supplemented with SR. The lowest and highest numbers of lipid droplets in oocytes corresponded to the Bi and Bt strain, respectively. The lowest amount of lipid droplets in embryos was observed in Bi (p < 0.05). In conclusion, supplementation of the in vitro development culture medium (synthetic oviduct fluid) with a synthetic substitute serum produced similar results in terms of embryo development compared to those obtained with FCS, but a decreased degree of lipid droplet accumulation was observed in the in vitro-cultured embryos.

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