We report the successful cryopreservation of in vitro-produced porcine zygotes. Follicular oocytes from prepubertal gilts were matured (IVM), fertilized (IVF), and cultured (IVC) in vitro. At 10 or 23 h after IVF, the oocytes were centrifuged to visualize pronuclei. Zygotes with two or three pronuclei were used for solid surface vitrification (SSV). Survival of vitrified-warmed zygotes was determined by their morphology. To assess their developmental competence, vitrified (SSV), cryoprotectant-treated (CPA), and untreated (control) zygotes were subjected to IVC for 6 days. Survival and developmental competence did not differ between control and CPA zygotes. The proportion of live zygotes after SSV and warming (93.4%) was similar to that in the controls (100%). Cleavage and blastocyst formation rates of SSV zygotes after vitrification (71.7% and 15.8%, respectively) were significantly lower than those of controls (86.3% and 24.5%, respectively; ANOVA P < 0.05). Blastocyst cell numbers of SSV and control embryos were similar (41.2 ± 3.4 and 41.6 ± 3.3, respectively). There was no difference in developmental ability between zygotes cryopreserved at an early (10 h after IVF) or late (23 h after IVF) pronuclear stage. Storage in liquid nitrogen had no effect on the in vitro developmental competence of vitrified zygotes beyond the reduction induced by the vitrification itself. When the embryo culture medium was supplemented with 1 μM glutathione, the rate of development of cryopreserved zygotes to the blastocyst stage did not differ significantly from that of control glutathione-treated zygotes (18.6% and 22.1%, respectively). To test their ability to develop to term, vitrified zygotes were transferred to five recipients, resulting in three pregnancies and the production of a total of 17 piglets. These data demonstrate that IVM-IVF porcine zygotes can be cryopreserved at the pronuclear stage effectively without micromanipulation-derived delipation, preserving their full developmental competence to term.
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Vol. 80 • No. 1