Although acceptable rates of blastocyst formation are achieved with in vitro production of bovine embryos, several problems still compromise the subsequent development of the fetus and newborn, especially in embryos originating from somatic cell nuclear transfer. Routinely, the potential development of a bovine conceptus is predicted either on blastocyst quality or on various parameters related to the embryonic-fetal development in a foster mother. These methods are either imprecise or costly, highlighting the need for more reliable and practical methods to evaluate early embryonic development and differentiation. Thus, our aim was to improve the in vitro culture of embryos post hatching and to define a stable and repeatable system to monitor the development of bovine embryos. For that, in vitro–derived embryos were cultured in agarose gel tunnels in a modified culture medium (SOFaaci within 10% fetal bovine serum and 27.7 mM glucose). Daily monitoring of embryo length revealed that 56%–67% of the embryos in culture showed rapid growth and elongated until Day 13. Electron microscopy of elongated embryos at Day 14 confirmed successful localization of differentiated cells forming the trophoblast and hypoblast, with the definition of the Rauber layer. In conclusion, a stable culture system of post hatching embryos was first defined and can be used as a model for rapid growth, elongation, and initial differentiation of bovine post hatching embryos produced entirely in vitro.
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