For some species, embryos cultured with conspecific companions may have enhanced in vitro development compared with singletons. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of quality and age of companion embryos on single felid embryos produced by in vitro maturation or in vitro fertilization. Test oocytes (intermediate quality) were inseminated and incubated alone or with 10 embryos derived from oocytes with a high, intermediate, or low glucose uptake. The effect of relative age of companion embryos on test embryo development was also examined by insemination and incubation of test oocytes alone or with 10 conspecific embryos that were older, younger, or the same age. Test embryos coincubated with better- or equal-quality companions had better development and more cells per embryo (mean ± SEM number, 74.9 ± 16.9 and 40.6 ± 8.8, respectively, Day 7; P < 0.05) than test embryos coincubated with lesser-quality companions (5.1 ± 1.4) or alone (8.4 ± 3.7). Intermediate-quality embryos incubated with older companions had more cells per embryo (88.3 ± 17.0; P < 0.01) than those incubated with synchronous (49.3 ± 12.1) or younger (29.4 ± 6.1) embryos. The cell number of solitary embryos (9.8 ± 3.1) was less (P < 0.05) than that of every group of test embryos incubated with companions, regardless of age. In vitro development of solitary cat embryos is improved by culture with excellent-quality conspecific companions, particularly companions of an advanced age.
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