The effects of glucose, fructose, and galactose on hamster embryo development in the absence of phosphate were studied in culture. One- and two-cell embryos were cultured to the blastocyst stage in HECM-9 medium without hexose or in medium with increasing concentrations of hexoses. Embryo development, cell number, and cell allocation were assessed in blastocysts. Blastocyst viability was determined by transfer to pseudopregnant recipients. Although 0.25 mM fructose increased mean cell number, low glucose concentrations had no stimulatory effect on development to blastocyst. Both galactose and 5.0 mM glucose were detrimental to embryos. Addition of 0.5 mM glucose increased implantation and fetal viability as compared with controls. Compared with 0.5 mM glucose, treatment with 0.25 mM fructose gave similar implantation and fetal viability, whereas 5.0 mM glucose tended to decrease implantation and significantly decreased fetal development. These data demonstrate that morphology is a poor indicator of embryo viability and that exposure of preimplantation embryos to glucose or fructose is important for embryo viability post-transfer. Although no difference in blastocyst viability was detected between embryos cultured with 0.25 mM fructose and those cultured with 0.5 mM glucose, increased cell numbers obtained with fructose suggest that fructose may be more appropriate than glucose for inclusion in culture medium.
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