Influence of cumulus cells and sperm concentration on cleavage rate and subsequent embryonic development of buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) oocytes matured and fertilized in vitro

Nandi, S.; Chauhan, M.S.; Palta, P.

Theriogenology 50(8): 1251-1262


ISSN/ISBN: 0093-691X
PMID: 10734439
DOI: 10.1016/s0093-691x(98)00224-6
Accession: 046397323

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The objective of the present study was to investigate the effects of sperm concentration and presence or absence of cumulus cells on fertilization, cleavage rate and subsequent embryonic development upto the blastocyst stage in buffalo. Cumulus-oocyte-complexes (COCs) obtained from slaughterhouse ovaries were matured in vitro in TCM-199 + 10% FBS + 5 micrograms/mL FSH-P for 24 h. After maturation the COCs were either used as such (cumulus-intact) or freed from attached cumulus cells by repeated pipetting (cumulus-free). Frozen-thawed buffalo spermatozoa were treated with 10 micrograms/mL heparin and 2.5 mM caffeine for sperm capacitation. Oocytes were fertilized in vitro with 1 to 2, 4 to 5 or 9 to 10 million sperm/mL and the cleavage rate was recorded 42 to 44 h post insemination. The cleaved embryos were co-cultured with buffalo oviductal epithelial cells for 10 d post insemination, and the uncleaved oocytes were fixed and stained with aceto-orcein for determination of the penetration rate. The cleavage rate and the proportion of cleaved embryos that developed to morula and blastocyst stages were significantly higher (P < 0.05) whereas the proportion of degenerated oocytes and those that became arrested at the 2 to 16-cell stage were significantly lower (P < 0.05) with cumulus-intact than with cumulus-free oocytes at the 3 sperm concentrations. Increasing the sperm concentration increased the cleavage rate significantly (P < 0.05) from 1 to 2 million through 9 to 10 million sperm/mL but had no effect on the proportion of cleaved embryos that developed to morula and blastocyst stages. In conclusion, the results of the present study suggest that cumulus cells have a positive influence on fertilization, cleavage and subsequent embryonic development. Increase in sperm concentration increases cleavage rate without affecting subsequent embryonic development.