Porcine in vitro production (IVP) systems, including in vitro maturation (IVM) and in vitro fertilization (IVF) of oocytes and their subsequent in vitro culture (IVC), have been modified by many researchers, but are still at a low level because of a low developmental rate of embryos to the blastocyst stage and their poor qualities. Our objectives were to establish reliable IVP procedures for porcine blastocysts and to examine the ability of the blastocysts to develop to term after transfer to recipients. Porcine cumulus-oocyte complexes were matured in vitro under 5% O2 or 20% O2, fertilized in vitro under 5% O2, and subsequently cultured under 5% O2 in 1) IVC medium supplemented with glucose (IVC-Glu) from Day 0 (the day of IVF) to Day 6; 2) IVC-Glu from Days 0 to 2, then IVC medium supplemented with pyruvate and lactate (IVC-PyrLac) from Days 2 to 6; 3) IVC-PyrLac from Days 0 to 2, then IVC-Glu from Days 2 to 6; and 4) IVC-PyrLac from Days 0 to 6. There were no significant differences in blastocyst formation rates on Day 6 between the 5% O2 and 20% O2 conditions (19.9% and 14.0%, respectively). However, the quality of blastocysts, as evaluated by the total cell number, was better after IVM under 5% O2 than under 20% O2 (mean cell number, 43.5 and 37.8, respectively). When IVP embryos were cultured in IVC-PyrLac from Days 0 to 2 and subsequently in IVC-Glu from Days 2 to 6, the rate of blastocyst formation (25.3%) and cell number (48.7) were higher than the rates (5.8% to 18.1%) and numbers (35.4 to 37.1) with the IVC-Glu then IVC-Glu, the IVC-Glu then IVC-PyrLac, and the IVC-PyrLac then IVC-PyrLac regimens, respectively. We then prepared conditioned medium (CM) from culture of porcine oviductal epithelial cells for 2 days in IVC-PyrLac and evaluated its effect on development to the blastocyst stage. Cultivation in CM for the first 2 days, followed by IVC-Glu for a further 4 days, had a significantly greater effect in increasing the number of cells in the blastocyst (58.3) than did in IVC-PyrLac (48.4). Finally, we evaluated the ability of blastocysts, generated by IVM under 5% O2 and IVC in CM, to develop to term. When Day 5 expanding blastocysts (mean cell number, 49.7) were transferred to an estrus-synchronized recipient (50 blastocysts per recipient), the recipient remained pregnant and farrowed eight normal piglets. Furthermore, when Day 6 expanded blastocysts (mean cell number, 80.2) were transferred to two estrus-synchronized recipients, both gilts remained pregnant and farrowed a total of 11 piglets. These results suggest that an excellent piglet production system can be established by using this modified IVP system, which produces high-quality porcine blastocysts. This system has advantages for the generation of cloned and transgenic pigs.
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