Oocyte cryopreservation is important for assisted reproductive technologies (ART). Although cryopreservation of metaphase II (MII) oocytes has been successfully used, MII oocytes are vulnerable to the damage inflicted by the freezing procedure. Cryopreservation of germinal vesicle stage oocytes (GV-oocytes) is an alternative choice; however, blastocyst development from GV-oocytes is limited largely due to the need for in vitro maturation (IVM). Herein, we evaluated the effects of l-carnitine (LC) supplementation during vitrification and thawing of mouse GV-oocytes, IVM, and embryo culture on preimplantation development after in vitro fertilization (IVF). We first compared the rate of embryonic development from the oocytes that had been collected at the GV stage from three mouse strains, (B6.DBA)F1, (B6.C3H)F1, and B6, and processed for IVM and IVF, as well as that from the oocytes matured in vivo, i.e. ovulated (IVO). Our results demonstrated that the rate of blastocyst development was the highest in the (B6.DBA)F1 strain and the lowest in the B6 strain. We then supplemented the IVM medium with 0.6 mg/ml LC. The rate of blastocyst development improved in the B6 but not in the (B6.DBA)F1 strain. Vitrification of GV-oocytes in the basic medium alone reduced the rate of blastocyst development in both of those mouse strains. LC supplementation to the IVM medium alone did not change the percentage of blastocyst development. However, LC supplementation to both vitrification and IVM media significantly improved blastocyst development to the levels comparable with those obtained from vitrified/thawed IVO oocytes in both of the (B6.DBA)F1 and B6 strains. We conclude that LC supplementation during vitrification is particularly efficient in improving the preimplantation development from the GV-oocytes that otherwise have lower developmental competence in culture.
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Vol. 88 • No. 4