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M. D. Mitchell, B. R. Hicks and J. S. Robinson

Summary. The concentration of thromboxane (TX) B-2 was similar in plasma from all sources but was significantly greater (P < 0·01) in amniotic fluid. Fetal hypophysectomy was without effect on maternal or fetal levels of TXB-2 (P > 0·1). Neither normal parturition at term nor prematurely induced delivery was associated with any significant trend in TXB-2 levels. During late pregnancy (105–145 days of gestation) the concentrations of TXB-2 and 13, 14-dihydro-15-keto-prostaglandin F (PGFM) in maternal and fetal plasma were significantly correlated (P < 0·001). There was, however, no correlation between TXB-2 and PGFM levels in samples taken during the 36 h before delivery. These data suggest that thromboxanes play little part in the mechanism of parturition in sheep.

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M. J. N. C. Keirse, B. R. Hicks and A. C. Turnbull

Nuffield Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Oxford, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, OX3 9DU, U.K.

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K I Aston, G P Li, B A Hicks, B R Sessions, B J Pate, D Hammon, T D Bunch and K L White

This study indicated that prolonged exposure of donor cell nuclei to oocyte cytoplasm before activation results in abnormal chromatin morphology, and reduced development to compacted morula/blastocyst stage in vitro. However, after transfer of embryos to recipients, there was no difference in pregnancy rates throughout gestation. Chromatin morphology was evaluated for embryos held 2, 3, 4 and 5 h between fusion and activation. In embryos held 2 h, 15/17 (88.2%) embryos contained condensed chromosomes, while only 12/24 (50.0%) embryos held 3 h exhibited this characteristic. The proportion of embryos with elongated or fragmented chromosomes tended to increase with increased hold time. While 15/19 (78.9%) of embryos held 2 h developed a single pronucleus 6 h after activation, only 8/22 (36.4%) had one pronucleus after a 4-h hold. Embryos held 1.0, 1.5, 2.0, 2.5, 3.0, 3.5 and 4.0 h cleaved at rates of 207/281 (73.7%), 142/166 (85.5%), 655/912 (71.8%), 212/368 (57.6%), 406/667 (60.9%), 362/644 (56.2%) and 120/228 (52.6%) respectively. Further development to compacted morula/blastocyst stage occurred at rates of 78/281 (27.8%), 42/166 (25.3%), 264/912 (28.9%), 79/368 (21.5%), 99/667 (14.8%), 94/644 (14.6%) and 27/228 (11.8%) respectively. Embryos held less than 2.5 h between fusion and activation established pregnancies in 18/66 (27.3%) of recipients, while embryos held over 2.5 h established pregnancies at a rate of 17/57 (29.8%). This study indicates that holding bovine nuclear transfer embryos less than 2.5 h between fusion and activation results in improved nuclear morphology and increased development to compacted morula/blastocyst stage, and results in pregnancy rates equivalent to embryos held over 2.5 h.