In this study, we evaluated the adenosine triphosphate (ATP) content of individual domestic cat oocytes before and after in vitro maturation and of different stages of in vitro-produced embryos. To investigate the effects of assisted-hatching technique on the ATP content and total cell number, the zona pellucida of in vitro-produced blastocysts and expanded blastocysts (recovered 144 h postinsemination [hpi]) was completely removed by pronase treatment. The average (mean ± SEM) ATP content of nonmatured oocytes (3.47 ± 0.18 pmol) was significantly (P < 0.01) higher than that of in vitro-matured oocytes (2.17 ± 0.10 pmol). After in vitro fertilization and culture, the ATP content of two-cell stages (24 hpi) was 1.17 ± 0.08 pmol, which increased to 1.47 ± 0.19 and 1.88 ± 0.32 pmol at the four- (40 hpi) and eight-cell (48 hpi) stages, respectively. The ATP content then decreased to 1.48 ± 0.10 pmol in 16-cell embryos (64 hpi), reaching a minimum of 0.49 ± 0.04 pmol at the morula stage (120 hpi). Blastocysts, expanded blastocysts (both 144 hpi), and hatching blastocysts (192 hpi) revealed ATP levels of 1.05 ± 0.09, 1.79 ± 0.01, and 4.17 ± 0.21 pmol, respectively. After enzymatic removal of the zona pellucida (ERZP) at 144 hpi, ATP content and total cell numbers of blastocysts (4.15 ± 0.37 pmol of ATP, 328.3 ± 48.5 cells) and expanded blastocysts (5.81 ± 0.54 pmol of ATP, 430.1 ± 29.7 cells) analyzed at 192 hpi were significantly (P < 0.001) higher than in their nontreated counterparts (blastocysts: 1.00 ± 0.09 pmol of ATP, 65.3 ± 4.6 cells; expanded blastocysts: 1.79 ± 0.11 pmol of ATP, 121.4 ± 6.5 cells). Our study describes, to our knowledge for the first time, changes in the energy status of domestic cat oocytes before and after maturation and during in vitro development after fertilization. The ERZP markedly increased the ATP content and total cell number of blastocyst stages, suggesting that this technique may improve the quality and viability of in vitro-produced domestic cat embryos.
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