One-step dilution of open-pulled-straw (OPS)-vitrified mouse blastocysts in sucrose-free medium
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Embryos vitrified by the open-pulled-straw (OPS) method are only briefly exposed to cryoprotectants and not fully equilibrated with the cryoprotectant. That being the case, conceivably the post-thawing de- and rehydration processes may be omitted. This would render thawing and dilution in a single step and direct transfer to recipients possible without the need for a microscope and other laboratory equipment. Morphologically intact mouse blastocysts from superovulated 5- to 8-week-old virgin female NMRI mice were vitrified according to a protocol  slightly modified from the classical OPS-procedure of Vajta et al.  consisting of exposure to 10% dimethyl-sulfoxide (Me(2)SO) + 10% ethylene glycol (EG) for 1 min, followed by 20% Me(2)SO + 20% EG for 20 s before loading into straws that are plunged into liquid nitrogen. In Group 1, 75 blastocysts were exposed to the standard thawing and dilution regimen involving exposure to three solutions of decreasing sucrose content (Control). In Groups 2, 3 and 4, 75 blastocysts each were transferred, in a single step, to medium at 37 degrees C containing 0.66, 0.33 or 0 M sucrose, respectively. After 48 h of in vitro culture the proportion of hatched blastocysts; was determined. In Group 1, this proportion amounted to 82.7%, in Groups 2, 3 and 4 to 76.0%, 7:3.3% and 78.7%, respectively (P > 0.05). To examine their potential to continue development in vivo, OPS-vitrified blastocysts thawed according to the regimens of Groups 1 and 4 were transferred to recipients (10 embryos/recipient). In Group 1, 9/10 recipients got pregnant with 4.7 +/- 0.6 (mean +/- SEM) fetuses, in Group 4, 8/10 recipients with 5.0 +/- 0.5 fetuses. The overall embryo survival rate per group was 42% for Group I and 40% for Group 4. All fetuses were normally developed and viable and there were no significant differences between groups (P > 0.05). It may be concluded that warming and transfer of OPS-vitrified mouse embryos in a single step in medium devoid of sucrose is feasible, which is tantamount to a substantial simplification of embryo transfer operations. (C) 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.