Blastocyst morphology, actin cytoskeleton quality and chromosome content are correlated with embryo quality in the pig

C. Zijlstra, A. Kidson, E. J. Schoevers, A. J J M Daemen, T. Tharasanit, E. W. Kuijk, W. Hazeleger, D. W B Ducro-Steverink, B. Colenbrander, B. A J Roelen*, Eric Schoevers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Embryo survival rates obtained after transfer of in vitro produced porcine blastocysts are very poor. This is probably related to poor quality of the embryos. The aim of the present study was to determine markers for good quality blastocysts. Therefore, we tried to link blastocyst morphology to several morphological and cell biological properties, and evaluated the survival of in vitro produced, morphologically classified, blastocysts following non-surgical transfer. In vitro and in vivo produced blastocysts were allocated to two groups (classes A and B) on the basis of morphological characteristics. The quality of their actin cytoskeleton, their total cell number, their ability to re-expand after cytochalasin-B treatment and the occurrence of numerical chromosome aberrations were studied and compared. In vivo produced blastocysts were used as a control. Our results indicate that the ability of blastocysts to re-expand after cytochalasin-B-induced actin depolymerization was positively correlated with the morphology of the blastocyst, and associated with the quality of the actin cytoskeleton. Chromosome analysis revealed that mosaicism is inherent to the in vitro production of porcine embryos, but also that in vivo produced blastocysts contained some non-diploid cells. In non-surgical embryo transfer experiments more recipients receiving class A blastocysts were pregnant on Day 20 than those receiving class B blastocysts. One recipient gave birth to six piglets from class A in vitro produced blastocysts, providing a verification of the enhanced viability of blastocysts that were scored as 'good' on the basis of their morphology. © 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)923-935
Number of pages13
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2008


  • Embryo quality
  • Non-surgical embryo transfer
  • Pig


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