Colony-stimulating factor 2 (CSF2) enhances competence of the bovine embryo to establish and maintain pregnancy after the embryo is transferred into a recipient. Mechanisms involved could include regulation of lineage commitment, growth, or differentiation of the inner cell mass (ICM) and trophectoderm (TE). Experiments were conducted to evaluate regulation by CSF2 of pluripotency of the ICM and differentiation and growth of the TE. Embryos were cultured with 10 ng/ml recombinant bovine CSF2 or a vehicle control from Days 5 to 7 or 6 to 8 postinsemination. CSF2 increased the number of putative zygotes that developed to blastocysts when the percent of embryos becoming blastocysts in the control group was low but decreased blastocyst yield when blastocyst development in controls was high. ICM isolated from blastocysts by lysing the trophectoderm using antibody and complement via immunosurgery were more likely to survive passage when cultured on mitomycin C-treated fetal fibroblasts if derived from blastocysts treated with CSF2 than if from control blastocysts. There was little effect of CSF2 on characteristics of TE outgrowths from blastocysts. The exception was a decrease in outgrowth size for embryos treated with CSF2 from Days 5 to 7 and an increase in expression of CDX2 when treatment was from Days 6 to 8. Expression of the receptor subunit gene CSF2RA increased from the zygote stage to the 9–16 cell stage before decreasing to the blastocyst stage. In contrast, CSF2RB was undetectable at all stages. In conclusion, CSF2 improves competence of the ICM to survive in a pluripotent state and alters TE outgrowths. Actions of CSF2 occur through a signaling pathway that is likely to be independent of CSF2RB.
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Vol. 89 • No. 6