A 100-fold reduction of the standard dose for artificial insemination in pigs (3 x 10(9) spermatozoa in 80-100 ml fluid) can be used when spermatozoa are deposited surgically next to the uterotubal junction. The present study was performed to develop a technique for non-surgical deep intrauterine insemination in pigs without sedation of the animal. In Expt 1, sows were weaned, treated to induce oestrus and used to evaluate the difficulties involved in the insertion of a flexible fibre optic endoscope through the cervix and along the uterine horn. Deep uterine catheterizations were performed on each sow at 30-40 h after hCG treatment in the crate in which the animal was housed. The endoscope was inserted through an artificial insemination spirette, moved through the cervical canal and propelled forward along one uterine horn until the entire endoscope was inserted. In 30 sows (90.9%) no or minor difficulties were observed during insertion and in these animals the procedure was completed in 4.1 +/- 0.26 min. Insertion of the endoscope through the cervical canal was not possible in only one sow (3.03%). In Expt 2, endoscopic deep intrauterine insemination at 36 h after hCG treatment was performed in 15, 18 and 13 sows with 100, 20 or 5 x 10(7) spermatozoa, respectively, resulting in farrowing rates of 86.6%, 88.9% and 92.3%, respectively; there were no significant differences among groups. Farrowing rates after deep intrauterine inseminations were also not different from those achieved after standard intracervical insemination with 3 x 10(9) spermatozoa (control group: n = 48; 87.5%). Mean litter size (9.41 +/- 0.38 to 10.02 +/- 0.25) was also similar among the different experimental and control groups. In conclusion, endoscopic non-surgical deep intrauterine inseminations can be performed quickly in sows, and normal farrowing rates and litter sizes can be obtained after insemination with a small number of spermatozoa.
EA Martinez, JM Vazquez, J Roca, X Lucas, MA Gil, I Parrilla, JL Vazquez and BN Day
EA Martinez, JM Vazquez, J Roca, X Lucas, MA Gil, I Parrilla, JL Vazquez and BN Day
A fibreoptic endoscope procedure for non-surgical deep intrauterine insemination in non-sedated sows has been reported. However, the endoscope is an expensive and fragile instrument, and is unsuitable for use under field conditions. The aim of this study was to determine the minimum number of spermatozoa required to maintain optimal fertility using a flexible catheter (1.8 m in length, 4 mm in diameter) for deep intrauterine insemination in 2-6 parity non-sedated sows. Crossbred sows were treated with eCG 24 h after weaning and with hCG 72 h later to induce oestrus. Deep intrauterine insemination was performed 36 h after hCG treatment in 117, 126, 60 and 69 sows with 15.0, 5.0, 2.5 or 1.0 x 10(7) spermatozoa in 10 ml, respectively. Weaned sows (n = 147) not treated with hormones and used for standard artificial insemination (AI) (two inseminations per oestrus with 3 x 10(9) spermatozoa in 100 ml) served as controls. The flexible catheter was passed successfully through the cervix into one uterine horn in 95.4% of the sows in an average of 3.7 +/- 0.09 min. Farrowing rates after deep intrauterine insemination with 15 or 5 x 10(7) spermatozoa did not differ from those of the control group (82.9, 76.2 and 83.0%, respectively), but a significant decrease (P < 0.001) was observed in sows inseminated with 2.5 or 1.0 x 10(7) spermatozoa (46.7 and 39.1%, respectively). In contrast, the number of spermatozoa inseminated did not affect prolificacy. Laparotomy revealed that the tip of the flexible catheter reached approximately the anterior third of the uterine horn. Although deep intrauterine insemination was performed in only one uterine horn, the percentages of embryos collected from the tip of both uterine horns 2 days after deep insemination were not significantly different. The results show that in comparison with standard AI, a 20-60-fold reduction in the number of spermatozoa inseminated and an 8-10-fold reduction in the dose volume can be achieved without decreasing fertility when semen is deposited non-surgically into the upper first third of one uterine horn.
QY Sun, GM Wu, L Lai, KW Park, R Cabot, HT Cheong, BN Day, RS Prather and H Schatten
The distribution of active mitochondria during pig oocyte maturation, fertilization and early embryo development in vitro was revealed by using MitoTracker Green staining and confocal laser scanning microscopy. The regulation of mitochondrial translocation by microfilaments and microtubules was also studied. In oocytes collected from small follicles, strong staining of active mitochondria was observed in the cell cortex. Accumulation of active mitochondria in the peripheral cytoplasm and around the germinal vesicles was characteristic of fully grown oocytes collected from large follicles. Mitochondria accumulated in the perinuclear area during meiotic progression from germinal vesicle breakdown (GVBD) to anaphase I. Larger mitochondrial foci were formed and moved to the inner cytoplasm in mature oocytes. Compared with the oocytes matured in vivo, in which large mitochondrial foci were distributed throughout the cytoplasm, mitochondria were not observed in the central cytoplasm in most of the oocytes matured in vitro. Strong staining of mitochondria was observed in the first polar bodies in metaphase II oocytes. In fertilized eggs, active mitochondria aggregated in the pronuclear region. Perinuclear clustering and a cortical ring were the most marked features of early cleavage. Active mitochondria were distributed in both inner cell mass cells and trophectoderm cells of the blastocysts. Disassembly of microtubules with nocodazole inhibited both mitochondrial aggregations to the germinal vesicle area and their inward movement to the inner cytoplasm during oocyte maturation, as well as the translocation of mitochondria to the peri-pronuclear region during fertilization, whereas disruption of microfilaments by cytochalasin B had no effects. These data indicate that: (i) oocyte maturation, fertilization and early embryo development in pigs are associated with changes in active mitochondrial distribution; (ii) mitochondrial translocation is mediated by microtubules, but not by microfilaments; and (iii) in vitro maturation conditions may cause incomplete movement of mitochondria to the inner cytoplasm and thus affect cytoplasmic maturation.
TJ King, Dobrinsky JR, J Zhu, HA Finlayson, W Bosma, L Harkness, WA Ritchie, A Travers, C McCorquodale, BN Day, A Dinnyes, PA De Sousa and I Wilmut
Embryo transfer and pregnancy maintenance strategies in pigs were evaluated with reference to situations in which limited numbers of viable embryos or micromanipulated embryos are available, such as pig cloning. Development of embryos with compromised zona pellucida was compared with development of embryos with intact zona pellucida. Micromanipulation had no effect on blastocyst production rates after development in vivo or in vitro, but development in vivo improved the number of embryos reaching the blastocyst stage. Transfer of embryos with compromised zona pellucida resulted in live piglets. Several hormone treatments to maintain pregnancy were tested in a model in which three embryos were transferred into unmated recipient gilts, compared with transfer of three embryos into mated recipients. None of the hormonal treatments resulted in pregnancy rates of more than 25% at term and no more than 9% of transferred embryos survived, in comparison with 50% of the mated recipients successfully carrying 25% of transferred embryos. Lastly, the developmental potential of parthenogenetic embryos was assessed and 62% of transferred embryos resulted in pregnancies, none of which continued beyond day 55 of gestation. After co-transfer of three fertilized embryos with 55-60 parthenogenetic embryos into each of six recipients, two live piglets were delivered. The results from the present study indicate that transfer of zona pellucida compromised embryos can yield litters of normal piglets. In addition, it was demonstrated in a model system involving the transfer of three fertilized embryos into mature gilts that hormonal pregnancy maintenance strategies support a low proportion of embryos to term. Lastly, the present study shows for the first time a comparably effective but novel alternative for pregnancy maintenance in the pig involving the co-transfer of parthenote embryos.