Abstract #92

# 92
D. A. Tutt*1, R. E. Lyons1, M. K. Holland1, 1School of Veterinary Science, University of Queensland, Gatton, Queensland, Australia.

The cattle industry primarily employs embryo bisection in order to obtain genetic samples for pre-implantation screening and selection of embryos. Although practical and rapid, bisection is invasive and adversely affects embryo viability and cryopreservation. An alternative biopsy approach is to aspirate the blastocoele fluid (referred to as blastocentesis), which not only provides a genetic sample, but also has the potential to improve cryopreservation (Palini et al. 2013 Repro. Biomed. 26, 603–610). This study investigates blastocentesis as a low impact biopsy procedure to rapidly sample bovine blastocysts with limited effect on embryo cryopreservation survival. In vitro-produced embryos were selected at expanded blastocyst stage and placed in a 50-μL drop of holding media on an inverted microscope. The embryo was held using a glass holding pipette attached to a micromanipulator, oriented so that the inner cell mass was toward the bottom of the view. A 7-μm spiked intracytoplasmic sperm injection pipette attached to the other micro-manipulator was used to pierce the blastocoele cavity and aspirate the blastocoele fluid. Once removed, the aspirate was transferred into 4-μL TE buffer for later genetic analysis. Collapsed blastocysts were then vitrified in ~7 μL 16.5% ethylene glycol, 16.5% dimethyl sulfoxide in TCM-199 (Hanks salts) with 20% FCS and 0.5 m sucrose. Embryos were held for a minimum of 1 week and then thawed and assessed for survival. Post-cryopreservation embryo survival was measured as the proportion of embryos that re-expanded after 48 h in culture. One-way ANOVA was used for statistical testing. A total of 181 control (intact) and 182 blastocentesis embryos were vitrified over 6 replicates. In all but one replicate, non-biopsied control embryos had higher re-expansion rates. Overall, the re-expansion rate was significantly (P = 0.05) higher for control embryos (73.5%) than blastocentesis embryos (61.5%) (Table 1). Initial experiments would suggest embryo survival is affected by the biopsy procedure; however, because this was not the case with every replicate, this may be batch or technician/human error dependent. Further study is required to assess full effect of blastocoele fluid aspiration on embryo cryopreservation, particularly investigating effectiveness for in vivo-produced embryos and subsequent effect on pregnancy rates. Likewise, further investigation is required to assess whether the sample collected is sufficient to allow accuracy over a variety of genetic tests. More than 20 embryos can easily be sampled in an hour using this technique, making it a rapid and efficient process. Given the speed and compatibility with cryopreservation, this sampling procedure may offer an alternative to current techniques used for cattle embryo genetic assessment. Table 1. Post-thaw survival rates of in vitro-produced embryos vitrified after blastocentesis1
TreatmentN24 h48 h
% RE% Hatched% RE% Hatched
Control18168.5 ± 3.516.0 ± 2.773.5 ± 3.330.9 ± 3.5
Blastocentesis18260.4 ± 3.613.2 ± 2.561.5 ± 3.619.8 ± 3.0
1N = all embryos retrieved from cryostraws; RE = re-expanded blastocysts. Means ± standard error of the mean.