The developmental potential of oocytes from prepubertal cattle is decreased, compared with those from their adult counterparts. The aim of the present study was to improve the developmental capacity of oocytes from prepubertal cattle by either systemic application of recombinant bovine somatotropin (rbST) or intraovarian injection of insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I). Blastocyst yields and the mRNA expression pattern (relative abundance, RA) of three putative marker genes (i.e., glucose transporter-1, Glut-1; eukaryotic translation initiation factor-1A, eIF1A, and upstream binding factor, UBF) were selected as criteria to determine the success of the treatments. At 6–7 mo of age, 30 healthy Holstein calves were randomly assigned to three experimental groups. The first group served as control and received an intraovarian injection of 0.6 ml acetic acid. The second group received a single s.c. injection of 500 mg of rbST. The third group received an intraovarian injection of 6 μg recombinant human IGF-I. During the following 2 wk, follicles were aspirated four times via transvaginal ultrasound-guided technology. All animals were i.m. injected with 60 mg FSH 48 h prior to each aspiration. The treatments were repeated with the same animals at 9–10, 11–12, and 14–15 mo of age. For comparison, five adult cows were each i.m. injected with 100 mg FSH and underwent oocyte retrieval. The proportion of oocytes considered to be developmentally competent was higher in cows than calves (65% vs. 58%, 50%, 52%) for the control, rbST, and IGF-I groups, respectively. The rate of blastocysts was similar in IGF-I-treated calves and cows (28% and 25%) and was higher (P ≤ 0.05) than in the controls and the rbST group (11% and 16%). The RA for Glut-1 was lower (P ≤ 0.05) in two- to four- cell embryos from calves, compared with cows. At the 8- to 16- cell stage, Glut-1 RA was similar in IGF-I-treated calves and cows. The RA for eIF1A was higher (P ≤ 0.05) in 8- to 16-cell embryos derived from cows than those from the control group. Results show that IGF-I intraovarian injection increased blastocyst yields and mRNA expression of Glut-1 and eIF1A to levels found in embryos produced from adult cows. This treatment may at least partially overcome the developmental deficiency of oocytes derived from calves and could be a step forward toward the use of prepubertal animals in breeding programs aimed at shortening the generation interval.
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