The present study was conducted to determine the optimal conditions for successful in vitro fertilization (IVF) in Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats. The IVF of oocytes from SD and Wistar rats was compared in different fertilization media (mR1ECM, IVF-20, and modified Krebs-Ringer bicarbonate solution [mKRB]), and IVF conditions were then optimized for oocytes of the SD strain. Results showed that in mR1ECM medium, fertilization rates were markedly lower in SD rats (15%) than in the Wistar strain (73%), although this response was significantly improved by increasing the NaCl concentration. In addition, fertilization rates in SD rats were higher in modified IVF-20 (73%) than in IVF-20 (18%) and mKRB (53%). In contrast, fertilization rates in Wistar rats were higher in IVF-20 and modified IVF-20 than in mKRB (78%, 74%, and 36%, respectively). Further investigation concerning the effects of the NaCl supplementation (10– 40 mM) in IVF-20 on the fertilization of oocytes in the SD strain indicated that significantly higher percentages of oocytes were fertilized in IVF-20 supplemented with 30 mM NaCl (66%) and developed to the blastocyst stage (47%) in vitro. After transfer, embryos derived from this IVF system developed to term at a percentage comparable to that of in vivo-fertilized controls. In conclusion, differences exist in optimal IVF conditions between rat strains, and a modified culture medium has been successfully developed for assessment of the developmental competence of oocytes in SD rats.
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