Ovarian stimulation with equine chorionic gonadotropin (eCG) is largely used in animal reproductive technologies to provide a larger number of oocytes and embryos and to improve the reproductive outcome. However, the consequences of maternal treatment with eCG on embryo gene expression patterns are not widely studied. The aim of this work was to assess the ovarian response (preovulatory follicular population, oocyte maturation, ovulation rate, and serum steroid concentrations), the early embryo survival and gene expression patterns of a panel of quality-genes involved in glucose intake, oxidative stress, apoptosis, proliferation, implantation, and fetal growth in embryos of lactating rabbits treated with eCG. A total of 34 primiparous rabbit does (Oryctolagus cuniculus) were randomly distributed at Day 23 postpartum into a treatment group receiving a unique nonsuperovulatory dose (25 IU) of eCG (eCG group; N = 17 does); or a control group without eCG treatment previously to artificial insemination (control group; N = 17 does). After 48 hours, 8 does of each group were euthanized and their ovarian response was studied. The rest of animals were artificially inseminated and their ovulation was induced with a GnRH analogue. Embryos were recovered 3.5 days later. The oocytes retrieved for in vitro maturation showed no differences in metaphase II rate in both experimental groups, although oocyte cytoplasmic maturation, in terms of cortical granule migration rate, was improved in eCG-treated does (P < 0.05). The mean number of preovulatory follicles was similar between groups but the ovulation rate was significantly higher in eCG-treated does compared with does not stimulated (P < 0.05). No differences were found in serum estradiol and progesterone concentrations of does the day of oocyte and embryo recovery, respectively. However, progesterone:estradiol ratio was slightly increased in eCG group on embryo recovery day (P = 0.1). The percentage of embryos recovered at the blastocyst stage was also increased in eCG-treated does (P < 0.05), nevertheless, there were no differences in the gene expression patterns of candidate genes SLC2A4, IGF1R, IGF2R, SHC1-SHC, TP53, PTGS2, and PLAC8; except for the transcripts of SOD1 mRNA which were downregulated in eCG-derived embryos (P < 0.05). In conclusion, the administration of eCG improves ovulation rate, oocyte cytoplasmic maturation, and blastocyst formation in primiparous rabbit does inseminated on Day 25 postpartum. Although it seems not to influence the gene expression patterns studied, a lower antioxidant defense of embryos developed after the maternal eCG treatment is suggested. © 2013 Elsevier Inc.
|Publication status||Published - 15 Jan 2013|
- Gene expression
- Oocyte maturation