The effects of ovalbumin as a protein source during the in vitro production of bovine embryos
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Embryo quality is influenced by the culture conditions that affect in vitro maturation (IVM), fertilization (IVF) and culture (IVC) rates. The present study investigated the feasibility of producing bovine embryos after the replacement of fetal calf serum (FCS) and bovine serum albumin (BSA) by ovalbumin (OVA). The IVM and IVC medium were supplemented with 10% FCS, 4 mg/mL BSA, or 4 mg/mL OVA. The IVF medium was supplemented with 6 mg/mL BSA or OVA. For IVM, supplementation with FCS, BSA, and OVA did not affect nuclear maturation or cortical granule migration. Higher rates of formation of two pronuclei were obtained when FCS was employed for IVM (79.97%), regardless of the supplement used for IVF, and when BSA was used for IVF (59.4%), regardless of the supplement used for IVM. Supplementation with OVA for IVM+IVC (20.40%) and for IVF (22.15%) was inferior to supplementation with FCS for IVM+IVC (30.47%) and with BSA for IVF (28.91%) for blastocyst development. Hatching rates were lower using OVA for IVM+IVC (23.02%) and for IVF (28.93%) compared with FCS and BSA under the same conditions (40.78 and 34.82%, respectively) and BSA for IVF (36.82%). Supplementation with OVA for IVM+IVC and IVF resulted in reduced inner cell mass, trophectoderm cells and total blastocyst cell numbers (17.29, 37.88, and 55.17, respectively). In conclusion, OVA is a protein source for bovine in vitro embryo production, although the quantity and quality of bovine blastocysts using only ovalbumin in the entire in vitro production process are lower than those obtained in the presence of FCS and BSA, when used as supplements in any step of bovine in vitro embryo production.